Jun 15, 2020
Digital, Domestic, Disposable: The Life Sciences’ Many Cultures of Experimentation
- 14:00 to 15:30
- Dept. III
- Bruno J. Strasser
This meeting will take place on Zoom
Historical narratives concerning the transformations of the life sciences since the nineteenth century have centered on the rise of experimentation. In the twentieth century, “cultures of experimentation” (H.-J. Rheinberger) were numerous and diverse, and we are only starting to understand the many ways these cultures assembled different technical, material, and social elements into unique formations. Here, I discuss three such cultures of experimentation towards developing a more complex picture of the history of the life sciences and to explore how these cultures tied together epistemic and moral visions. First, I question historical narratives which emphasize the digitalization of the life sciences, instead highlighting the permanence of practices usually associated with natural history. Second, I suggest that the participatory turn of the late twentieth century, a turn which promoted DIY biology experimentation at home, can be understood as part of domestic and “thrifty science” (S. Werrett) traditions. Third, I reframe the story of “big biology”, centered on large automated instruments, as the rise of small disposable laboratory equipment. These narratives reveal the material and social transformation at play in the life sciences. Experimentation, as practice and ideal, was indeed a transforming historical force, but only as it combined with other traditions and values within and beyond the disciplinary boundaries of the life sciences.
Contact and Registration
If you would like to attend this meeting, please register via email with Tanja Neuendorf. Please note that places are limited.