Dr. Karen-Sue Taussig, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota Abstract: This paper, based on ethnographic research in the United States, examines scientific and popular renderings of molecular therapies as
Dr. Karen-Sue Taussig, Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota
Abstract: This paper, based on ethnographic research in the United States, examines scientific and popular renderings of molecular therapies as a site for the projection of cultural fantasies involving the desire for human perfectibility and fears of degeneration. Such practices as gene therapy, pharmacogenomics, and stem-cell therapies promise transformative interventions into human life and health. The recognition of the potential flexibility of biological material and of life itself has facilitated the establishment of a new set of research efforts and allied commercial ventures seeking to transform such potential into medical therapies. I will argue that in the gap between the contemporary reality of available therapies and the potential of future therapies we find diverse efforts at imagining and building particular futures. Here significant work is being undertaken to create the material, political, economic, and conceptual means deemed necessary for facilitating the realization of a molecular medical clinic. At the heart of this work is the constitution of the ambiguously human as a biological resource for future humanness under the terms of human health and well-being. This paper focuses on everyday practices aimed at creating citizens knowledgeable about genomics to examine the cultural fantasies embedded in the conceptual work undertaken by scientists and others as they work to elaborate a human future enhanced by a new molecular medical toolkit.
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