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Making DNA and its becoming an experimental commodity

Berry, Dominic J. (2020) Making DNA and its becoming an experimental commodity. History and Technology, 35 (4). 374 - 404. ISSN 0734-1512

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Identification Number: 10.1080/07341512.2019.1694125


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. This method could be replicated for other ‘experimental commodities’.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
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: 20 Oct 2021 02:45

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