Accepted Paper:

Exploring the scope and limits of interdisciplinary in scientific research: genetics, epigenetics, biomedicine, and the nature/culture debate  

Author:

Eugenia Ramirez-Goicoechea (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, UNED)

Paper short abstract:

Life Sciences and Sociocultural disciplines have traditionally ignored each other, mainly because of conceptual dualism and disciplinary specialisation. Based on ethnographic work, this paper explores the scope and limits of a biosociocultural turn in scientific theory and research.

Paper long abstract:

Life scientists have often neglected or misunderstood anthropological contributions to the study of humans and humanity. So have social and cultural scientists done, with Biology and other 'sciences' (Ecology, Ethology, Evolution…), as if humans were independent of the phenomena they investigate. This division has impinged on the development of a holistic approach to the complex biosociocultural beings into which we have evolved and developed.

A conception of 'culture' as materialsymbolic practices, and 'biology' as a non-linear developing current of life, as eco-systemically intertwined processes, is a fundamental starting point if we want to transcend dualistic thinking and disciplinary enclosure.

'Borderline' research (social epigenetics, environmental epidemiology, neuro-anthropology, embodiment, ART/IVR studies, social neurocognition, affective neuro-social sciences, multispecies ethnography, …) shows that hybridity is not only necessary but worth it.

Notwithstanding, there are still strong caveats for such a turn.

Deeply entrenched dualistic onto-epistemologies and worldviews, essentialised classificatory systems and categories, linear causal thinking, within strongly regulated ecosystems of knowledge (legitimate practice and truth validation, institutionalised procedures and protocols, enclosed epistemic communities, corporativism, etc.) configure specific landscapes for specifically orientated theoretical and empirical research. In that, they inevitably preclude openness, flexibility, and conceptual conflation, impinging on cross-disciplinary talk and collaborative research. For this matter, aspects concerning scope, focus, scale, temporality, eco-systemic interconnections and networks, generativity, global dynamics, etc. are no less relevant.

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Genetics, Epigenetics, and Biomedicine research institutions in Catalonia and Madrid, I will explore the possibilities of such a conceptual shift, both in theory and practice.

Panel P112
Interdisciplinary research and nature-society interactions