International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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TUESDAY, JULY 7  /  09:00 - 10:30  /  DS-R515
Organized session / diverse format
Authors meet critics: “Postgenomics: Perspectives on biology after the genome” (2015)

Hallam Stevens (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore); Sarah Richardson (Harvard University, United States)


Michael Dietrich (Dartmouth College, United States)
Laura Franklin-Hall (New York University, United States)
Michel Morange (École Normale Supérieure, Centre Cavaillès, France)
Sahotra Sarkar (University of Texas at Austin, United States)

At the 2011 ISHPSSB meeting in Salt Lake City, Sarah Richardson convened a panel called “The Genomic Turn.” The session and the subsequent discussions at the ISHPSSB meeting demonstrated significant interest in understanding the phenomenon of “postgenomics” from a multi-disciplinary perspective. This led to an edited volume with contributions from historians, sociologists, philosophers, and biologists: Postgenomics: Biology After the Genome, edited by Sarah Richardson and Hallam Stevens, published by Duke University Press in May 2015.

Postgenomics examines developments in biology in the ten years after the Human Genome Project's completion. Those in the life sciences stand in a moment of uncertainty, transition, and contestation. The contributors to Postgenomics assess the great changes to the life sciences triggered by the Human Genome Project and place those changes in historical, social, and political context. To make sense of postgenomics—the work done in the life sciences now that the genome is mapped—the contributors examine how electronic data is changing research methodologies and fostering new forms of scientific labor, outline the affective dimensions of studying the genome, and demonstrate how genomic sequencing provides insights into race, gender, and sex. They also show the ways postgenomics is reshaping debates about the environment's role in altering gene expression, and even how postgenomics forces a rethinking of the notion of the genome itself.

The 2015 ISHPSSB meeting provides an ideal opportunity for extending and developing the conversations articulated in this volume. As such, the editors propose a 90-minute roundtable session for discussion and critique of the book’s contributions. A diverse panel of influential scholars (to whom we will precirculate the manuscript) have offered to present short and provocative critiques of the volume to serve as starting points for discussion. We also expect that several of the authors who have contributed to the volume will be present at the meeting and will contribute to the discussion. The roundtable session will be structured as follows:
• Brief introduction to the book by the editors (10 minutes)
• Short critiques by respondents (40 minutes)
• Responses by authors and/or editors (10 minutes)
• Audience Q&A and general discussion (30 minutes)