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Making DNA and its becoming an experimental commodity

Berry, Dominic J. (2019) Making DNA and its becoming an experimental commodity. History and Technology. ISSN 0734-1512 (In Press)

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This paper pursues the history of biology and technology in tandem. It focuses on DNA’s materiality regardless of informational properties. My emphasis on ‘making’ integrates attention to cultures of work in material histories of biology with analyses of the development of technical apparatuses and machines. When it comes to the history of DNA synthesis our materials are as much chemical as they are biological, which means that there is really a third history present, one that also needs to be drawn in, but on its own terms. I demonstrate the ways in which different chemistries have been combined with different technologies, all together affording different arrangements of personnel and biological science. It is a history of how synthesised DNA first came to be, became desired, and became a commodity, available for inclusion in a wide variety of experiments and experimental systems. Aside from laying the foundations for a global history of DNA synthesis, I suggest this method could also be replicated throughout the history of biology for other ‘experimental commodities’.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 Informa UK Limited
Divisions: Narrative Science
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
T Technology > T Technology (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2019 11:42
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2020 00:32

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