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Naked GenesReinventing the Human in the Molecular Age$
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Helga Nowotny and Giuseppe Testa

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014939

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014939.001.0001

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Disputed Affiliations: Who Belongs to Whom?

Disputed Affiliations: Who Belongs to Whom?

(p.33) 3 Disputed Affiliations: Who Belongs to Whom?
Naked Genes

Helga Nowotny

Giuseppe Testa

The MIT Press

What and who belongs to whom? Questions of identity, property and affiliation run through all encounters with biotechnology. They underscore the fault lines along which the public debate imagines, articulates, and decides on diverse and disputed designs for the future. The processes through which, at the molecular level, genes, cells, embryos, clones, and other entities are made visible and mobile lead, at the societal level, to appropriations that are as epistemically challenging as they are normatively controversial. Interdependencies at the molecular level are thus translated, at the social level, into interdependencies between individuals and the community. In this chapter, we examine two aspects of disputed affiliations and appropriations. The first revolves around disputed lines of descent that give visibility to unsuspected tensions between the individual and the community. The second deals more directly with disputed appropriations, in particular with issues of property rights over genes and other biological entities. What belongs to whom also decides, in the end, who belongs to whom.

Keywords:   Contested descent, DeCode Genetics, Inc, empowerment of citizens, breast cancer genes, Google, Myriad Inc

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