"Reardon lays out a bold vision for genomics's potential. She probes the value of the human genome from a utilitarian perspective, contending that human DNA and data constitute the raw resource of our times: a commodity whose value is to be quantified as biocapital. Thus, the postgenomic condition is about using information and knowledge as the currency from which to build a 'genomics that is of, for, and by the people'."-- Nature
“The Postgenomic Condition" is a beautifully tendered plea for a revived approach to ethics in genomics – one that invites wide open discussion that includes the experiences and interests of traditionally marginalized groups.”-- Sarah S. Richardson, Harvard University
Jenny Reardon discusses "The Postgenomic Condition." She will be joined in conversation by Steven Epstein. A Q/A and signing will follow the discussion.
At the Co-op
About the book: Drawing on more than a decade of research—in molecular biology labs, commercial startups, governmental agencies, and civic spaces—Reardon demonstrates how the extensive efforts to transform genomics from high tech informatics practiced by a few to meaningful knowledge beneficial to all exposed the limits of long-cherished liberal modes of knowing and governing life. Those in the American South challenged the value of being included in genomics when no hospital served their community. Ethicists and lawyers charged with overseeing Scottish DNA and data questioned how to develop a system of ownership for these resources when their capacity to create things of value—new personalized treatments—remained largely unrealized. Molecular biologists who pioneered genomics asked whether their practices of thinking could survive the deluge of data produced by the growing power of sequencing machines. While the media is filled with grand visions of precision medicine, "The Postgenomic Condition" shares these actual challenges of the scientists, entrepreneurs, policy makers, bioethicists, lawyers, and patient advocates who sought to leverage liberal democratic practices to render genomic data a new source of meaning and value for interpreting and caring for life. It brings into rich empirical focus the resulting hard on-the-ground questions about how to know and live on a depleted but data-rich, interconnected yet fractured planet, where technoscience garners significant resources, but deeper questions of knowledge and justice urgently demand attention.
About the author: Jenny Reardon is a Professor of Sociology and the Founding Director of the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research draws into focus questions about identity, justice and democracy that are often silently embedded in scientific ideas and practices, particularly in modern genomic research. Her training spans molecular biology, the history of biology, science studies, feminist and critical race studies, and the sociology of science, technology and medicine. She is the author of "Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics" (Princeton University Press, 2005) and "The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome" (Chicago University Press, Fall 2017). She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from, among others, the National Science Foundation, the Max Planck Institute, the Humboldt Foundation, the London School of Economics, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, and the United States Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
About the interlocutor: Steven Epstein is the John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities and Chair of Sociology at Northwestern University. He studies the “politics of knowledge”—the contested production of expert and especially biomedical knowledge, with an emphasis on the interplay of social movements, experts, and health institutions, and with a focus on the politics of sexuality, gender, and race. He is currently completing a book called "Catching Sexual Health: Science, Politics, and Selfhood in an Era of New Sexual Truths."