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Anthony Di Fiore, Chair SAC 4.102, Mailcode C3200 78712 • 512-471-4206

Fall 2005

ANT 310L • Biotechnology & Culture

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
28510 MW
10:00 AM-11:00 AM
PAR 203
Ghosh

Course Description

This course explores the nature and meanings of biotechnology today, especially in relation to the problem of culture. Biotechnology - at the least - is a new and radically important way of generating and managing information concerning biological life. It is on the one hand a part of the larger Information Technology revolution. On the other hand, it is distinctive in relation to the other IT domains and needs careful attention. The products and processes of biotechnology are integral to our diet, the medical systems we participate in daily, the nature that we enjoy or are fearful of and certainly to the discourses through which many of us conceptualize our bodies and selves today. What is significance of Biotechnology - as a putative intervention in the realm of Nature - for the symbolic systems or cultural worlds we live in? What are the profound shifts that biotechnology is introducing into the discourse of culture and our selves? What is the relationship between biotechnology and capitalism? How is biotechnology itself being produced and assimilated as a cultural project?

Through readings from anthropology of science, science studies, political ecology, genetics, popular media and financial markets, we try to plot the way biotechnology is reshaping the domain of culture while it itself becomes a part of our lived, cultural landscape. In addition to the lecture, students must register for one of the following discussion sections: (1) 28510, F 10-11:00-PAR 302, (2) 28515, F 12-1:00-PAR 308

Texts

Gonick, Larry and Mark Wheelis. 1991. The Cartoon Guide to Genetics. New York: Harper Perennial. Lewontin, Richard. 2001. It Ain't Necessarily So: The Dream of the Human Genome and Other Illusions. New York: NYRB. Rabinow, Paul. 1996. Making PCR, A Story of Biotechnology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shiva, Vandana. 1997. Biopiracy : the Plunder of Nature and Knowledge. South End Press. Werth, Barry. 1997. The Billion-Dollar Molecule: One Company's Quest for the Perfect Drug. Touchstone Books.

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