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Postgenomic futures: translations across the machine-nature border in systems biology

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This article discusses the production of new “postgenomic” knowledges that aim to be more ecological and “wholistic” than the reductionist genetics of the last forty years. It examines systems biology and, briefly, developmental systems theory, which are two approaches that attempt to model complexities in biology. System biological metaphors and languages have been in part taken from engineering models of automobiles, airplanes and robots and then applied to complex living systems. Systems biology is only the most recent example and perhaps an excellent case in which to study this movement back and forth across the machine-living organism border in Euro-American biology to track how what we know to be nature and machine is constituted. This article argues for a careful analysis of this historical production specifically around the question of what is lost in translation at these border crossings and their potential consequences.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Sociology and Holtz Center for Research in Science and Technology Studies, 8218 Social Science, 1180 Observatory Drive, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 53706, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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