14.0132 Genome peril

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Sat Jul 22 2000 - 16:18:11 CUT

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                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 132.
          Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

      [1] From: CTHEORY EDITORS <ctech@alcor.concordia.ca> (149)
            From: Arun-Kumar Tripathi <tripathi@statistik.uni- (6)
            Subject: [CFP] Event-Scenes, Art Projects: The Promise and
                    Perils of the Human Genome Project

     The Promise and Perils of the Human Genome Project
     CTHEORY@Boston College
     Call for Papers, Event-Scenes, Art Projects
          "Today we are learning the language in which God created
          life...With this profound new knowledge, humankind is on the
          verge of gaining immense new power to heal...Without a doubt,
          this is the most important, most wondrous map ever produced by
               - President Clinton
          "It would take you 100 years to read your own genetic code but I
          suspect you would fall asleep far earlier."
               - Craig Venter, CEO, Celera Genomics
     Beginning on-line in fall, 2000 and continuing with a spring, 2001
     workshop/event at Boston College jointly sponsored by CTHEORY and the
     Department of Sociology, CTHEORY will examine the simultaneously
     ethical, social and ideological issues raised by the announcement of
     the successful conclusion of the first-phase of the Human Genome
     Project. Widely hyped as a "bible of life" and a "map" to the future
     of human evolution, the Human Genome Project throws into sharp
     ethical relief critical social issues raised by this newest phase in
     eugenic experimentation. Simultaneously speaking in terms of the
     language of facilitation (post-genetics as about the eradication of
     disease and the extension of the human life span) and in the language
     of control (genetic sequencing as the latest pharmaceutical version
     of the social hygiene movement), the Human Genome Project with its
     vision of pure genes and designer biology raises again not only the
     spectre of scientific hubris but also the silent political interests
     of a potential genetic superclass. Asking the question: the Human
     Genome Project: for whom and for what? as well as from whom and from
     what? This issue of CTHEORY will be devoted to a diversity of
     perspectives on the promise and perils of the Human Genome Project.
     Not something new, the Human Genome Project may continue a very
     ancient story: the struggle between two irreconcilable elements in
     human experience--the unwanted reality of the decay of the flesh, and
     the long-sought promised land of escape from the organic body to the
     pure technological body of post-biologics. Between the necessity of
     bodily corruption and exiting human flesh, that may be the utopia and
     futility of the Human Genome Project.
     Terminal Genome
     Hailed as nothing less than a "historic scientific achievement" and a
     "technological feat," the so-called "completion" of the map of the
     human genome - announced this summer in a public conference with U.S.
     President Clinton - is being compared to the moon landing and the
     splitting of the atom. The mainstream media, from TIME, to CNN, to
     the New York Times, have given widespread coverage to this event,
     highlighting the promises that the genome will lead to a new era of
     medicine, health care, and the government and corporate sponsored
     fight against disease. Biotech stocks are rising and falling with a
     dynamism rarely seen, except in the info-tech sector. As if the
     floodgates had opened, a whole new breed of gene-based disciplines
     has come forth as the answer to the problems of disease, mortality,
     even corporeality. These so-called "post-genomic" sciences, such as
     proteomics, pharmacogenomics, and bioinformatics, promise a future of
     "regenerative medicine," in which disease, disorder, and
     predisposition can be effectively coded out of the genome. Thus the
     overall effect from the announcement of the genome's completion is
     that the benefits of the genome are already here; as Jean Baudrillard
     might have put it, "the post-genomic era has already happened."
     Because this event has met with only minimal critical response thus
     far, CTHEORY proposes a heterogeneous grouping of interventionist
     responses, geared towards the more problematic assumptions and
     unrevealed desires embedded in the human genome project.
     Speed-theorists, net.artists, bio-activists, and biotech hobbyists,
     among many others, are invited to provide an alternative, more
     critical vision of the genome and its infotech-ideology. This is the
     tactic of cDNA as a distributed informatic critique.
     CTHEORY'S cultural sequencing of the Human Genome Project will be
     edited by Arthur and Marilouise Kroker with Eugene Thacker (Rutgers
     University) and Stephen Pfohl (Boston College). In 2000-2001, CTHEORY
     will be edited from Boston College's Department of Sociology.
     * CTHEORY is an international journal of theory, technology
     * and culture. Articles, interviews, and key book reviews
     * in contemporary discourse are published weekly as well as
     * theorisations of major "event-scenes" in the mediascape.
    [material deleted]

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           Information at <http://www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/>

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