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Realizing potential in translational medicine: the uncanny emergence of care as science

Friese, Carrie ORCID: 0000-0001-7144-8046 (2013) Realizing potential in translational medicine: the uncanny emergence of care as science. Current Anthropology, 54 (S7). S129-S138. ISSN 0011-3204

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Identification Number: 10.1086/670805


This paper examines how a laboratory has responded to the problematics of translational medicine by creating an experimental system that links care for model animals with care for future patients. These scientists explicitly integrate caring practices into their scientific research on the basis that better, more translatable findings will result. Here, the potential of translational medicine to create human therapeutics is viewed as linked with the plasticity of model organisms. This is because poor care for animals is believed to result in inadequate scientific findings. However, emphasizing the constitutive role of care in conditioning both model organisms and experimental systems provokes an uneasiness regarding the standardizability of animal models, which I characterize with reference to Freud’s notion of “the uncanny.” In experimental science, care is something that has always been known but repressed. By making the constitutive power of care and the plasticity of model organisms explicit, these scientists trouble key ideas about standardization in laboratory contexts and address new kinds of scientific uncertainty. Based on this case study, I argue that care is a potentializing practice and, in turn, a site of politics. By attending to care, we can better understand how living beings are being potentialized as well as how they are not.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Date Deposited: 24 May 2013 11:16
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:35
Funders: Wenner-Gren Foundation

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