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A Machine to Make a Future:
Biotech Chronicles
Paul Rabinow & Talia Dan-Cohen
With a new afterword by the authors

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]

ADDITIONAL REVIEWS:

"[Paul Rabinow's] interviews are expertly conducted and provide a rich resource that can be mined from a variety of perspectives--including scientific, business, legal, ethical, and philosophical."--George Jannas, Quarterly Review of Biology

ADDITIONAL ENDORSEMENTS:

"The stresses caused by the rapid growth of biological knowledge and capability will sorely test democratic societies in the coming decades. A first step in coping with these strains must involve expanding the discussion of the issues and the pace of change beyond the tiny circle of biologists and businesspeople now involved. Enter Rabinow and Dan-Cohen, whose investigations of Celera Diagnostics, a company at the forefront of research in human genetic differences, open the concepts, practices, and institutions of this revolutionary world to broader public scrutiny. Imagine if Tracy Kidder had written The Soul of a New Machine about a genomic diagnostics company, and informed it with deep, scholarly insight into science, business, and leadership, and you begin to get the scope of this book."--Dr. Roger Brent, Director and President of The Molecular Sciences Institute

"This fascinating book opens up a huge number of questions about how social scientists, anthropologists, or science studies practitioners write about science, scientists, technology, and innovation. It offers some of the most sophisticated and detailed accounts to date of the complexity, serendipity, and unpredictability of the very kinds of scientific innovation that are often described as being deliberately planned to serve specific interests or normative values. It is packed with very original data, its analytical style and argument are very provocative, and it makes a very timely contribution to the field. I have never read anything like it."--Sarah Franklin, author of Embodied Progress: A Cultural Account of Assisted Conception

"This impressive book provides an accessible, frank, behind-the-scenes look at what is really likely from the much-hyped hope-inspiring mapping of the genome. Led by the brilliant questioning and set pieces Rabinow and Dan-Cohen have devised, the reader gains, on the one hand, a heartening view of collective scientific talent, ingenuity, and cunning at work. On the other hand, through their interviews the authors show what is really different about this work of scientists--the talented work under the shadow of the profit motive, risk, opportunity, markets, and the brutality, sometimes, of the verdicts of their capitalist patrons. All of this is ingeniously explored in this chronicle, in an involving and engaging way. I gained much from reading it both as an anthropologist and as a middle-aged general reader, like many others, interested in the imminent promise of genetics for medical care."--George Marcus, Rice University, author of Ethnography through Thick and Thin

"A Machine to Make a Future is an insightful and creative contribution to the literature--both scholarly and journalistic--on contemporary genomics. By 'experimenting' with narrative genre, the authors hope to generate different insights into the world of genomics and biotechnology than ones generally presented in existing accounts. They succeed at that goal, providing an account that is ethnographically rich and analytically open to a world whose structure, implications, and outcomes are very much in the making."--Nadia Abu El-Haj, Barnard College, author of Facts on the Ground

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File created: 7/11/2014

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