Co-producing animal models and genetic science

Authored by: Carrie Friese

Handbook of Genomics, Health and Society

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138211957
eBook ISBN: 9781315451695
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter reviews the role of animal models in genetic research, both historically and in the contemporary moment. Consistent with the social science and historical literatures on animal models, I argue that genetic science and animal models have ‘co-produced’ (Jasanoff, 2004; Reardon, 2001) one another across the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries (Clarke & Fujimura, 1992; Lederman & Burian, 1993). This means that genetic knowledge and the animal used have shaped one another in an iterative and open-ended manner rather than in a one way and deterministic manner. As Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (1997, 2000, 2010) has argued, nature does not come ready made into the laboratory; nature (here laboratory animals) must instead be remade as research material, and rendered meaningful through laboratory practices that occur within the histories of scientific disciplines. But just as science reshapes the biologies of animals upon entering the lab, the biologies of animals also act back in meaningful ways that shape what can be known about genetics and genomics.

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