Publication:

Softly, softly: Comparative silences in British stories of genetic modification (2006)

Author(s): Degnen C

    Abstract: Since the late 1990s genetically modified foods, crops, and products have provoked a great deal of controversy in Britain. This article does not challenge the presence of debate over genetic modification in Britain, but rather calls attention to public silences on genetic modification that have often been overlooked. Drawing on multi-sited fieldwork in two parts of the north of England, I explore the ways in which these silences were not equally present across both fieldsites. I argue that this is partly due to the intersection of local histories with the ideological framing of genetic modification by the British government as a question of and for scientific expertise. I also explore how silence on the topic may be a form of what Sheriff (2000) has termed ‘cultural censorship’. Finally, I discuss the theoretical and methodological difficulties of studying and writing about silence, proposing that silences can importantly highlight issues of political and social salience.

      • Journal: Focaal
      • Volume: 48
      • Pages: 67-82
      • Publication type: Article
      • Bibliographic status: Published

      Keywords: public understandings of genetics; silence; expertise; ways of knowing; genetically modified food.

      Staff

      Dr Cathrine Degnen
      Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology