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“More than genetics”: doing resemblance, social connection, intimacy, and kinship 
Tessa Moll (University of the Witwatersrand)
Roos Metselaar (University of Amsterdam)
Andrea Whittaker (Monash University)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

This panel explores expressions of social (dis)connection; how the boundaries between the ‘like’ and the ‘unlike’ are enacted in various ways; and how familial is measured, contested, or (re)defined in biomedical work, research, and technologies.

Long Abstract:

This panel problematizes assumptions of genetic primacy in biomedicine and biomedical technologies. A focus upon practices within assisted reproductive technologies and emerging postgenomic knowledges demonstrates how genetics, as a preeminent marker of kin and connection, is being remade, transformed, and in some cases ignored all together. In technological interventions such as donor matching practices, organ transplantation, personalized medicine, blood donation and direct-to-consumer ancestry testing, boundaries between the ‘like’ and the ‘unlike’; between ‘sameness’ and ‘not too different’ are enacted in various ways and measured, contested, or (re)defined. At the same time, postgenomic research is increasingly destabilizing the significance of genes. In epigenetics, shared environments, via food, collective trauma, or toxins, can induced embodied similarities, and gestation, even in the absence of genetic ties as in surrogacy, can potentially extend kinship beyond the nuclear family. STS analysis of microbiome research points to our intimate and embodied connections with nonhuman forms of life.

This panel is an opportunity to engage across multiple ethnographic particularities and forms of science and technology to speak to the ways that social connections are (re)made, delineated, and distinguished. This panel welcomes papers across social sciences and STS on the making of resemblance, connection, kinship, and relatedness and practices toward the defining of boundaries between the familial and the not, kin and not kin, in biomedical work, research, and technologies.

Accepted papers: