Challenging bio-objectification : adding noise to transgenic silences

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Challenging bio-objectification : adding noise to transgenic silences

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Publication BookChapter
Title Challenging bio-objectification : adding noise to transgenic silences
Author(s) Holmberg, Tora ; Ideland, Malin
Date 2012
Editor(s) Vermeulen, Niki; Tamminen, Sakari; Webster, Andrew
English abstract
A transgenic animal can be viewed as a boundary walker – or crawler – transgressing cultural boundaries, and hybridizing categories such as nature and culture, animal and human, organism and innovation, science and technology. Transgenic mice (it is most often mice that are used, even though all kinds of mammals and invertebrates have been modified – sheep, rats, dogs, fish etcetera) create certain dilemmas because they are “trans” – both a product and a process – and crawl over institutional as well as species boundaries. A transgenic mouse is of course also in many ways like any other laboratory mouse; purpose- and inbred, standardised, preferably pathogen free, in short, an animal constructed through history to suite experimental purposes. Our contribution to the anthology dwells on and explores what the bio-object concept can do in terms of further understanding the life (and death) of a transgenic animal, which is in Haraway’s terms “at once completely ordinary and the stuff of science fiction”. The ambiguous character of transgenic animals, captured so well in Haraway’s quote rarely becomes articulated, neither in laboratories and ethics committees, nor in interviews with people who represent these arenas. Perhaps the most striking result of the project is that people, who work with and/or ethically review research with transgenic mice, seldom articulate that there are any specific dilemmas for this branch. Transgenic animals have thus not become an “issue”, in contrast to for example genetically modified crops, cloned animals or genetic tests. We will illuminate the production of transgenic silences, and show how the silences in turn can be challenged by the bio-objects – the TG mice – themselves. The project builds on case studies, and the empirical data has been collected through ethnography, including observations and interviews, focusing on how researchers and members of animal ethics committees handle dilemmas with animal experiments in general and transgenic animals in particular.
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Publisher Ashgate
Host/Issue Bio-objects : life in the 21st century
Series/Issue Theory, Technology and Society;
ISBN 978-1-4094-1178-9
Pages 13-26
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) transgenic
animal experimentation
Humanities/Social Sciences
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