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Bringing sequences to life: how bioinformatics corporealizes sequence data

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Sequence databases have become more visible through the heavy publicity associated with the Human Genome Project. This paper looks at some of the emerging artefacts and systems developed to read, write, order and visualise sequence data and other kinds of biological data retrieved from databases and databanks such as GenBank. It argues that bioinformatics software can be regarded as a symptom of a broad and powerful transformation in biological knowledges and in the biopolitical constitution of living bodies. Two facets of this transformation are emphasised. Firstly, examining bioinformatics software might help us situate how sequence data is actually circulating, and to what ends. In particular, the paper looks at the significance of sequence comparison and protein folding problems. Secondly, an emerging nexus of property relations and intellectual work can be detected within the ordering of sequence data carried out bioinformatics.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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