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Accepted Paper:

Microbial Extractions: Sequence-based Bioprospecting, Augmented Promises, and Elusive Politics  
Ana Delgado (University of Oslo)

Paper short abstract:

Microbes have been receiving increasing attention as key agents of post-oil bioeconomies. The paper examines how the turn to digital sequence data in bioprospecting is augmenting the promises attributed to microbial life forms while at the same time turning them into elusive political entities.

Paper long abstract:

In view of the end of the golden years of the Norwegian oil economy, ocean genetic resources are being advertised in policy environments as holding great potential for the future of the country. Microbes have increased in popularity as promising agents of the Norwegian new bioeconomy, as advances in gene sequencing technologies and genomics have made them more accessible. This paper examines the turn toward digital sequence data in bioprospecting to inquire about its political implications. It draws on a combination of empirical materials to describe the infrastructural work that goes into extracting microbes from their in situ locations in arctic and subarctic waters to in silico collections and databases. I argue that in that infrastructural work, microbes may become both more promising and more elusive public and political matters. As biodiversity is turned into data, bioprospecting appears as less dependent on material samples, which may ultimately render policy frameworks for biodiversity governance obsolete. The shift toward big sequence data in bioprospecting entails shifts in how promise is attributed to biodiversity, which life forms appear to be more promising, and how such life forms come to appear as public good (Delgado, 2021)

Delgado A. Microbial Extractions: Sequence-based Bioprospecting, Augmented Promises, and Elusive Politics. Science, Technology, & Human Values. December 2021. doi:10.1177/01622439211055693

Panel P05a
Plastic Data – bioinformation, coloniality and the promise of data futures
  Session 1 Thursday 9 June, 2022, -