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Cetus Corporation, the company which was the site of the invention of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-a technology that allowed rapid amplification and replication of precise sequences of DNA. The second ethnographic study was at the Centre d’Etude du Polymorphisme Humain (CEPH) in France, a leading genome mapping center. These studies have resulted in two books thus far: Making PCR:A Story of Biotechnology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996)and the book reviewed here, a collection of essays addressing issues in methodology of contemporary ethnography. the western constitution of reality,” by emphasizing those domains most taken for granted, repositioning them as historically particular and showing how their claims to truth are linked to social practices, and hence to show how they become effective forces in the social world. Rabinow places himself firmly in the camp of those who are constructing a critique and exposition of science as a social construct. He is in the eye of the storm currently raging in academic institutions concerning the nature of science in the context of contemporary literary , linguistic and philosophical debate. These essays were written during the time when he was carrying out his ethnographic projects in biotechnology institutions. They are enlivened by a sense of a battle in progress, of the observer observing himself. Daniel Cohen, the director of CEPH, viewed the involvement of Rabinow in their work as an “experiment.” The scientists were keenly aware that their scientific work in molecular biology and genetics was entering uncharted ethical and social domains and he was eager to establish a “philosophical observatory” inside the laboratory. The experiment proved to be an ethnographic study as well as an engagement in the academic arguments taking place in contemporary humanistic disciplines, particularly in social anthropology. Some of these essays may be distant from the usual preoccupations of Leonardo readers, but this is because Rabinow brings new considerations to the art/technology discussion . It would be of interest to have other ethnographers involved in some of the initiatives now under way that seek to create the new cultural matrix. A few elements that set me thinking included Rabinow’s discussion of the importance of friendship as a primary loOne of Rabinow’s aims is to “exoticize cus of thinking. His analysis could be carried over to the way that use of the Internet is leading to creation of intellectual communities, where the social bond of friendship is a key element in defining a scholarly neighborhood. A second is his discussion on the role of ethics in science. Before Descartes (as argued by Foucault and others), ethics and knowledge were intimately bound. Before Descartes one could not be impure , immoral and know the truth. With Descartes, direct evidence is enough. This puts into sharp focus the debate on the ethical issues arising from new biology and biotechnology. There are indeed two orthogonal ways of viewing science : the one extreme is to view science as a neutral activity that can be applied for good or bad purposes-that once the scientists have done their work, the lawyers, politicians and ethicists go to their task. The other way is to argue that scientists should be trained as ethical beings , by whom only certain kinds of scientific inquiry will be emphasized. Other topics addressed in the essays include French socialist urban planning in the 1930s, debates about the nature of evidence in DNA fingerprinting and the implications of gene technology on socially constructed groups (the creation of social groups defined by their genetic predispositions rather than their race or ethnicity-biosocial groups), and the emergence of a third culture. MultimediaProducts Tesselmania! The Learning Company for Greater Knowledge,Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 1995. CD-ROM for Macintosh and Windows. Books TheAlvar Aalto Guide Michael Trencher. Princeton Architectural Press, New York, Nk: U.S.A., 1996.228 pp., illus. Paper, $24.95. ISBN: 0-910413-55-X. Architectureand Feminism Debra Coleman, Elizabeth Danze and Carol Henderson, eds. Princeton Architectural Press, New York,Nk: U.S.A., 1996.256 pp., illus. Paper, $19.95. ISBN: 1-56898-0434. Architectureo f Fear Nan Ellin, ed. Princeton Architectural Press, New York,NE: U.S.A., 1997.320 pp., illus. Paper, $19.95...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 77-78
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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