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SOC3066 : Life Transformed: An Anthropology of Science and Society (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2017/18
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Cathrine Degnen
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


1. To introduce students to recent anthropological and sociological research on biotechnology and genetic manipulation.
2. To investigate social, cultural, economic and political aspects of new genetic technologies via a series of case studies.
3. To explore, anthropologically, global controveries provoked by genetic technologies.
4. To develop students' knowledge of theoretical debates in the social sciences over genetic technologies, particularly with regards to what these new social practices reveal about the categories of nature and culture.
5. To develop students' skills of critical analysis and to hone students' abilities to write logically and analytically.

Original Summary:
This module introduces students to genetic technologies from the perspective of social anthropology and sociology. The module asks what the social and cultural aspects of new genetic technologies are how these technologies are embedded in political and economic concerns, and how these new technologies simultaneously depend upon and reveal cultural understandings of body, human/non-human, family, self, sexuality, race and gender.

Outline Of Syllabus

All lectures are 2 hours long.
Specific reading lists for each lecture topic will be given out as part of course handbook. See 'key authors' listed below - full references provided in course handout.

Lecture 1
Introduction, part I - The Social Study of Biotechnology
Key authors: Strathern, Rabinow, Haraway, Franklin, Rose

Lecture 2
Introduction, part II

Lecture 3
New Genetics = Eugenics?
Key authors: Condit, Nelkin and Lindee, Shakespeare

Lecture 4
Mapping the Human Genome
Key authors: Arnason & Simpson, Pálsson & Rabinow, Sigursson.

Lecture 5
Blood, Genes and Nature: Race and the New Genetics
Key authors: Wade, Ragoné, Twine, Tyler

Lecture 6
Reproductive Technologies and Relatedness, part I
Key authors: Carsten, Strathern, Edwards, Franklin and McKinnon

Lecture 7
Reproductive Technologies and Rlatedness, part II
Key authors: Haimes, Rapp, Hayden

Lecture 8
Hello, Dolly: Cloning, Xenotransplantation and Transgenic Animals
Key authors: Edwards, Franklin, K Taussig

Lecture 9
Eating Genes: Debates over GM food
Key authors: Heller, Murcott, Shaw

Lecture 10
Public (Mis?)Understandings of Genetics
Key authors: Wynne, Irwin, Condit

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures introduce theoretical concepts whilst the remainder of the course gives examples to ensure that the learning outcomes are met. A wide variety is used, ensuring that lecture and video content relate to the specified outcomes.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1A100N/A
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The shorter essay ensures students grasp key concepts introduced in the first two lectures. The second assessment task ensures students the opportunity to read an ethnography in its entirety and will be concerned with assessing students' analytical skills and their understanding of the relationship between the methodological and conceptual aspects of a monograph. The longer essay allows for an in-depth analysis of material covered by the module.

Reflecting moves to standardise a resit assessment strategy within GPS, the resit will be 100% formal examination. Duration 3 hours.

Reading Lists