Abstract

In 2001, The American Museum of Natural History mounted an exhibit, "The Genomic Revolution," on the Human Genome Project and genetically modified organisms. This article analyzes the exhibit from the perspective of feminist science studies, contrasting feminist views of life with the androcentrism inherent in much of biology. The rhetoric of the exhibit is framed by "the discourse of gene action," the power and agency of genes, and by the naturalization of processes, the inexorable application of genomic information. Human DNA sequences are portrayed as secrets of life and held by the experts without discussion of if or how they should be used:The experts have already decided that use is inevitable and will result in unalloyed good. In contrast, the negative aspects of nonhuman, genetically modified organisms are explicitly presented. Throughout the exhibit, the visitor is asked to engage with the information and the resulting technologies as an individual; there is no suggestion that collective political action could influence the utilization of this knowledge. The "old" molecular biology tried to reveal the secret of life by deciphering the mechanism by which genes act, irrespective of their sequences; genomics, its successor, may result in the death of the discipline by making sequences the driving force for hypothesis-generation and experimentation.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2151-7371
Print ISSN
2151-7363
Pages
pp. 60-79
Launched on MUSE
2010-08-20
Open Access
No
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