i3, une unité mixte de recherche CNRS (UMR 9217)

Institut Interdisciplinaire de l'Innovation

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Guest seminar with Sara Angeli Aguiton
15 January 2019 • 11h-13h • • Room Saint Jacques

Guest seminar with

Sara Angeli Aguiton

Chargée de recherche CNRS, Centre Alexandre-Koyré, EHESS

La démocratie des chimères. Gouverner la biologie synthétique



Introduction to the discussion by Clément Gasull


Is it possible to make bacteria produce fuel? Can DNA be cut and arranged at will to create functional and useful organisms? Can an extinct virus be re-manufactured in the laboratory and then sent by post to a researcher who ordered it over the Internet? Does public debate have influence on this type of biotechnology? Are “bioterrorism” prevention policies successfully addressing these laboratory objects?

Based on a sociological survey conducted in France and the United States, the book follows anthropologists who have embarked in laboratories to provide ethical guidance to research, public debates that were organized to democratize synthetic biology, or partnerships between FBI agents, scientists, industrialists and amateur biologists aiming to reconcile innovation and “biosafety”.

In contrast to analyses that celebrate the advent of “technical democracy” or “responsible innovation”, the author turns these labels into a subject of study. She questions the close link between their early mobilization by innovation actors and the weakness of their effects on the direction taken by research. Even though they are “participatory”, “collaborative”, “interdisciplinary” and “reflexive”, the devices through which synthetic biology is governed are structured by techno-industrial interests that influence the definition of issues and of the solutions to be implemented. Thus, the book allows to understand how the risks induced by synthetic biology have been excluded from the regulatory devices: these devices have mainly focused on the prevention of contestation and terrorism, two issues that only concern synthetic biology because they risk hindering its development.

Editions Le bord de l’eau, 2018

The Guest Seminar Series is organized collectively by the CSI PhD students. It is open upon registration.

Contact and registration: Félix Boilève or Clément Gasull


15 January 2019
11 h 00 min - 13 h 00 min
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Félix Boileve Clement Gasull