Max Planck Institut for the History of Science

Writing Genomics: Historiographical Challenges for New Historical Developments

organized by Edna Suárez and Vincent Ramillon

Advance notification of your intention to attend should be sent to Birgitta v. Mallinckrodt

The rise of genomics and the many transformations it has stimulated, not only in biomedicine, but also in the organization of research and production of data, is certainly one of the most significant events of late twentieth century biology. History, however, seems to be lagging behind. Although a growing corpus of case-studies focusing on different aspects of genomics is now available, the historical narratives continue to be dominated by the “actors” perspective or, in studies of science policy and socio-economical analysis, by stories lacking the fine-grained empirical content demanded by contemporary standards in the history of science. The workshop on „Writing Genomics“ originates in this feeling of unease. Not only historians, but sociologists and philosophers confess their perplexity when dealing with the difficulties of this field and its many layers of practices, disciplines, and organizations, a feeling reinforced by the  apparent acceleration of the transformations. Today, we are at the point in which having comprehensive narratives of the origin and development of this field would be not only possible, but very useful. The purpose of the meeting lies within this frame of thinking. We wish to promote a collective reflection by providing a platform for discussing and collaborating on the many issues that have arisen in the scholarship emerging from genomics. Our intention is not to come up with a catalogue of the topics relating to genomics  studied by jurists, sociologists, economists, philosophers or historians within their own framework of research. Instead it is to point out the historiographical challanges and to address some of the recurrent methodological and theoretical questions regarding the writing of the history of genomics, questions that historians and sociologists have already started to formalize in their first attempts at analyzing this new field of research.