Starting up biology in China: performances of life at BGI

Stevens, Hallam (2018) Starting up biology in China: performances of life at BGI. Osiris, 33 (1). pp. 85-106.

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BGI (hua da ji ying; 华大基因; “China Great Gene”) counts among the world’s largest and wealthiest institutions for biomedical research. Located in Shenzhen, the new megacity in southern China, BGI is now a critical site for understanding the relationship between biomedicine and the economic development of China. This essay uses performance studies and the notion of shanzhai (“copycatting”) to understanding how this laboratory poses a challenge to traditional modes of understanding technoscience. This marks an attempt to understand BGI, its work, and its workers on their own terms, or at least on local terms. Just as shanzhai challenges our notions of originality, BGI’s hybridity challenges our notions of where and how scientific knowledge is produced. Performing not merely as a “laboratory,” but also, and at the same time, as a “factory,” and a “company,” BGI is an unfamiliar kind of hybrid scientific-industrial-commercial-governmental-philanthropic space that draws its repertoire from its very particular regional, national, and local-urban circumstances.

Item ID: 73182
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1933-8287
Copyright Information: © 2018 by The History of Science Society. All rights reserved. Accepted for publication by Osiris in 2018.
Funders: Ministry of Education, Singapore
Projects and Grants: Performances of Life
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2022 06:35
FoR Codes: 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4401 Anthropology > 440107 Social and cultural anthropology @ 20%
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430399 Historical studies not elsewhere classified @ 80%
SEO Codes: 13 CULTURE AND SOCIETY > 1399 Other culture and society > 139999 Other culture and society not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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