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Crafting life : a sensory ethnography of fabricated biologies

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dc.contributor.advisor Stefan Helmreich. en_US
dc.contributor.author Roosth, Hannah Sophia en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2011-06-06T17:45:06Z
dc.date.available 2011-06-06T17:45:06Z
dc.date.copyright 2010 en_US
dc.date.issued 2010 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1721.1/63236
dc.description Thesis (Ph. D. in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS))--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Program in Science, Technology and Society, 2010. en_US
dc.description Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 297-326). en_US
dc.description.abstract This ethnography tracks a diverse set of practices I term "constructive biologies," by which I mean efforts in the post-genomic life sciences to understand how biology works by making new biological things. I examine five fields of constructive biology - synthetic biology, DIY (do-it-yourself) biology, hyperbolic crochet, sonocytology, and molecular gastronomy - investigating how they are enmeshed in sensory engagements that employ craftwork as a means of grasping biology. Synthetic biology is a community of bioengineers who aim to fabricate standardized biological systems using genetic components and manufacturing principles borrowed from engineering. DIY biology is a community of "biohackers" who appropriate synthetic biologists' terminologies, standards, and commitment to freely exchanging biomaterials in order to do hobbyist biological engineering in their homes. The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is a distributed venture of thousands of women who are cooperatively fabricating a series of yarn and plastic coral reefs in order to build a material simulation of oceanic morphologies and evolutionary theories. Sonocytology, a technique in nanotechnology research, uses scanning probe microscopes to "listen to" cellular vibrations and "feel" the topologies of cells and cellular components. Molecular gastronomy is a movement in which practitioners - physical chemists and biochemists who study food, and chefs who apply their results - use biochemical principles and laboratory apparatuses to further cooking and the culinary arts. In analyzing these fields, I draw on histories of experimental biology, anthropological accounts of artisanship, science studies work on embodiment and tacit knowledge in scientific practice, and sensory ethnography. Based on data gathered from participant-observation and interviewing, I argue for thinking about making new biological things as a form of "crafting," an analytic that illuminates five aspects of contemporary biological manufacture: 1) sensory cultivation, 2) ongoing participation with biological media and forms, 3) the integration of making biological things and practitioners' selfmaking, 4) the embedding of social relations, interests, norms, and modes of exchange in built artifacts, and 5) the combination of making and knowing. In this study, I argue that both biology the substance and biology the discipline are currently being remade, and that increasingly, life scientists apprehend "life" through its manufacture. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Hannah Sophia Roosth. en_US
dc.format.extent 326 p. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/7582 en_US
dc.subject Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.title Crafting life : a sensory ethnography of fabricated biologies en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.description.degree Ph.D.in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Program in Science, Technology and Society. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 726662071 en_US


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