Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ARTENGINE (Artificial Life TodayAnthropological and Sociological Analysis of Life Engineering )
Reporting period: 2017-10-01 to 2019-09-30
OVERALL OBJECTIVES were:
1) to explore the social and cultural background and the specific concerns of the use of PGD and recombination DNA in the European context (WP2)
2) to describe and analyse the cultural and social structure and forms of agency, naming, defining, and dealing with engineered life within genome editing (WP3)
By meeting these analytical objectives and empirically addressing the phenomenon of life engineering, other following 3) theoretical objectives were achieved (WP1):
a) contemporary technologies of life engineering, particularly PGD and DNA recombinant, employing the concept of biopower/biopolitics were analyzed; b) connections between contemporary theories of biopower and non-biological, artificial, post-human, or multi-species concepts of life were explored; c) the study of genome screening and editing technologies using the approach of today’s new materialism were used.
OTHER OBJECTIVES/AIMS: Furthermore, the fellowship significantly contributed to my professional and career development (WP4, WP7). I undertook rigorous academic training and developed complementary skills. Another aim was to disseminate the research through a monograph and academic papers (WP5).
WP1: BIOPOWER AND ARTIFICIAL LIFE
The aim of WP1 was related to the theoretical objective to analyse contemporary technologies of life engineering, particularly genome editing employing the concepts of biopower, artificial life, and humanity. This work package required continuous work during the overall project.
WP2: CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND
The aim of this work package was to explore the social and cultural backgrounds and specific concerns of the uses of PGD and genome editing technologies. The digital ethnography and discourse analysis were used to analyse the Czech Republic and Germany in terms of: a) public debates on dealing with engineered life, b) legal frames and laws. Using the critical review of the theoretical status (WP1), a discourse analysis of public debates, laws (WP2), and an analysis of in-depth interviews (WP3) relating to genome editing technology, in this work package I have also analysed how these particular processes of life engineering are interconnected with categories of gender, race, multi-species, and religion.
The aim of this work package was to describe and analyse the cultural and social structures and the forms of agency, naming, defining and dealing with engineered life within PGD and editing genome technologies. Important parts of this work package included recruiting participants and obtaining permissions and authorizations for research in laboratories. Non-participatory observations, pilot and informative interviews, and in-depth interviews with scientists were used to understand dealing with engineered life and its agency. In total, around 25 in-depth interviews were conducted. Ethnographic participant and non-participant observations at the labs also took place.
WP4: HANDS-ON TRAINING.
The objective of this work package was to contribute to my professional and career development. I have visited a number of GRADE seminars and workshops at the Goethe university in Frankfurt to improve all soft skills mentioned. I am also involved in the ""Biotechnologies, Nature and Society"" research group (Goethe university) and LaSST_ Lab for Studies of Science and Technology (Goethe university).
WP5: DISSEMINATION: SCIENTIFIC AND ACADEMIC TARGETS.
This work package was based on the analysis of data collected WP2-3, framed by a theoretical perspective of anthropology of life and STS. During the research project, I wrote four papers and submitted them to the peer reviewed, internationally recognised journals. Two are published, two are under review now (in 2019). I also wrote the proposal for the monograph (submitted to the publishing house, under review) and I organized an international workshop at the University of Frankfurt (https://lasst.uni-frankfurt.de/event/we-new-utopians-genome-editing-and-echoes-of-future-life/). Four presentations at international conferences with academic audiences were given.
WP6 AND WP7 (OUTREACH ACTIVITIES AND RESEARCH AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT).
The aim of this work package was to communicate research to public forums. The outreach activities are consisting of the website, popularization article addressed to the mainstream mass media and five invited talks (one as a Marie Curie Ambassador) which were hold, also for international audience. Scientific and financial management of the project was assured through regular monitoring meetings with the supervisor and science officers to assess the progress of the works."