This course studies how bioart blurs distinctions between science and art through the combination of artistic and scientific processes, creating wide public debate. It explores the history of biotechnology as well as social implications of this science.
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For my reading, I decided to analyze How Do We Insure Security from Perceived Biological Threats? by Jonathan King. King discusses the United States and its diversion of billions of dollars from biomedical research and public health delivery, into unneeded and dangerous anti-bio-terrorism programs. These programs include Project Bioshield and BARDA. Throughout the article, King argues that the programs are actually inherently harmful due to the possibility of the generation of new infections that can threaten and harm communities more than we think.

It Runs in Your Genes

I chose to read “The Biopolitics of Human Genetics Research and Its Application” by Fatimah Jackson and Sherie McDonald this week. This article discusses how human genetics research is being used to trace ancestry and how this kind of information can be misinterpreted and misconstrued. The authors particularly focus on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) used to provide African Americans with information about their ancestry. While it may seem exciting to be able to learn where your family came from, there are a number of issues with using mtDNA to show ancestry.

Genetic ancestry tests belie true genetic diversity

I read “The Biopolitics of Human Genetics Research and Its Application” by Fatimah Jackson and Sherie McDonald. They discuss genetics in relation to biopolitics and identity politics, specifically the ancestry identity business, which is purported as a way to find your true identity,  but ends up being oversimplified fabrications based on little evidence and outdated race ideas. They discuss the issues with genetic tests to determine ethnic ancestry of African Americans, based on mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA, which is only maternal).

DNA Database: useful tool or misleading guide against true criminals?

DNA fingerprinting has been proved efficient in exonerating wrongly convicted suspects and identifying truly guilty ones in criminal investigation. In fact, more than 200 people were free owing to such technology. However, currently more advanced and portable DNA analyzing instrument as well as an ever-expanding DNA database might be responsible for selective and biased arrest in future law enforcement, which is analogous to application of phrenology in criminal justice system in the last century.

True Wake Up Call

I read the essay on “Bioparanoia and the Culture of Control”. This essay illustrates many important points that we can relate to in today’s world. First off, the essay goes into how fear is quite powerful. And I can agree that fear is much more powerful than anyone thinks it is as a persuasive tool. It’s success can be blatantly seen with politicians introducing fears of immigrants in today’s world, be it the US with electing Trump or Britain with Brexit or even in the French presidential election with the popularity of Marine Le Pen.

The Science Gap

This week, I decided to read the "The Ethics of Experiential Engagement with the Manipulation of Life" by Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr. This essay treads heavily on the topic of life from an ethical perspective, the guidelines in which mainstream academia presents biological topics, in the context of art, and as a component of biological and medical research. I chose this essay because it relates to the topics I raised in my midterm, the ethical use of animals in research but goes a bit deeper into the way we view simpler biological components.

Genetics and Racial Identity

This week, I decided to read the essay “The Biopolitics of Human Genetics Research and Its Application” by Fatimah Jackson and Sherie McDonald. In this essay, the authors discuss how genetic techniques are used to answer common questions regarding race and racial identity. They discuss how mitochondrial DNA, which is maternally passed down, has been used to determine a person’s lineage and give various reasons why this is not the most reasonable method of discovering racial background.

Biopolitics and Genetics

For this week’s blogpost, I decided to read “The Biopolitics of Human Genetics Research and Genetics” by Fatimah Jackson and Sherie McDonald. Fatimah Jackson is a biological anthropologist who critiques the association of ancestral history to genetics, which she believes lacks a historical context. In their essay, they discuss how genetic techniques are used to address human evolutionary origins and contemporary human adaptations along with the genetic basis of diversity.

Bloodborne Politics

Since I had done my midterm project with a focus on the social and political connotations of blood, of which HIV/AIDS played a large role, I thought it was appropriate to explore Mark Harrington's essay entitled: "AIDS Activists and People with AIDS: A Movement to Revolutionize Research and for Universal Access to Treatment."

Genome & Identity Politics

I read “In Contradiction Lies the Hope: Human Genome and Identity Politics” by Abha Sur & Samir Sur. In their essay they discussed recent genetic studies that looked further into the genome of India and in particular, Hindu caste members. In a study done by Michael Bamshad, it was found that the genetic composition of the Indian population was both rank and sex-specific. For example, the upper castes (priest or Brahmins) had a higher frequency of West Eurasian haplotypes (Bamshad).

Bioparanoia to Bio-acceptance

This week, I decided to analyze the essay “Bioparanoia and the Culture of Control” from Tactical Biopolitics (Costa and Philip, 2010). This essay focuses on the roots and progression of our current culture obsessed with cleaning our bodies, homes, and society of any germs or pathogens. I find this article interesting because it ties in with several recent natural and health-conscious practices.

Cultured Meat: Raising the Steaks

                My Dad was in LA last week for work, so we grabbed dinner together on Tuesday night and, unsurprisingly given our mutual love of science fiction, multiple topics from this class dominated our conversation. After a somewhat heated debate about the morality of Edward’s Kac’s GFP Bunny, I explained my project proposal on using CRISPR-Cas9 to enable limb regeneration in humans.


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