Place: 4274 Chamberlin (Refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Joan Fujimura, UW Department of Sociology
Abstract: The postgenomic era has been ongoing for some time, depending on whom one asks. This talk will discuss several fields that developed with the aim to complexify the reductionism of genetics. I earlier wrote about systems biology and developmental systems theory. Developmental Systems Theory (DST) developed in negative response to the genetic reductionism of early genetics rhetoric and theoretical approaches. Systems biology developed in positive response to the vast territories of information produced by the genome sequencing projects, what we now call “big data.” Sociologists have studied systems biology and epigenetics as hoped-for avenues to operationalize DST and complexity. Epigenetics has recently been proclaimed to be the solution to difficulties met by genetics and genomics in the search for health and disease mechanisms and potential therapies. However, epigenetics as DNA methylation at and around the genome differs vastly from “epigenetic inheritance.” Some scholars have argued that epigenetics is producing reductive explanations such as “blame the mother,” that emulate genetic reductive explanations. This talk will discuss these in the context of our current research on epigenetics and systems biology.