Accepted Paper:

Governing anticipatory technologies. Forensic DNA Phenotyping in Europe  


Matthias Wienroth (Newcastle University)

Paper short abstract:

Discussing ‘anticipatory technologies’ using Forensic DNA Phenotyping (FDP) as example, this paper examines 3 dimensions of FDP’s anticipatory nature (epistemic; operational; utility narratives) and explores their place in (self-)governing work of an emerging forensic genetics community of practice.

Paper long abstract:

The successful adoption of new technologies by communities of practice necessarily involves claims about their identity. Promissory narratives are integral to the formation and negotiation of these identities. However, promissory narratives are not the only or most significant anticipatory device that drives technology adoption. Drawing on and contributing to literature on the governance of technology, on technology adoption, and on the sociology of expectations, the paper aims to extend the debate on promissory narratives of emerging technologies to include the notion of inherently 'anticipatory technologies.' It suggests that such technologies encourage network-based, discursive (self)governing mechanisms, in themselves a form of anticipatory governance.

In focussing on Forensic DNA Phenotyping (FDP), the paper discusses three anticipatory devices that render FDP an inherently anticipatory technology. These devices describe the epistemic nature of FDP, its operational modi, and promissory suggestions made about its potential value to users. They are part of the discussion around credibility, legitimacy and utility of FDP. Phenotyping technologies are emerging in a discourse of claims around the power of DNA to provide reliable information and the limitations of producing, communicating and using this information in the social production of security and justice. In this context, an emerging (intentionally crafted) forensic genetics community of practice actively constructs a specific technology identity for FDP in order to enable and encourage its adoption by potential users and policy makers across national jurisdictions.

Panel T094
Emerging science and technology : questioning the regime of promising