Classical Genetic Research and Its Legacy: The Mapping Cultures of Twentieth-Century Genetics

Classical Genetic Research and Its Legacy: The Mapping Cultures of Twentieth-Century Genetics

Classical Genetic Research and Its Legacy: The Mapping Cultures of Twentieth-Century Genetics

Classical Genetic Research and Its Legacy: The Mapping Cultures of Twentieth-Century Genetics

Synopsis

With the rise of genomics, the life sciences have entered a new era. This book provides a comprehensive history of mapping procedures as they were developed in classical genetics. An accompanying volume - From Molecular Genetics to Genomics - covers the history of molecular genetics and genomics.The book shows that the technology of genetic mapping is by no means a recent acquisition of molecular genetics or even genetic engineering. It demonstrates that the development of mapping technologies has accompanied the rise of modern genetics from its very beginnings. In Section One, Mendelian genetics is set in perspective from the viewpoint of the detection and description of linkage phenomena. Section Two addresses the role of mapping for the experimental working practice of classical geneticists, their social interactions and for the laboratory 'life worlds'.With detailed analyses of the scientific practices of mapping and its illustration of the diversity of mapping practices this book is a significant contibution to the history of genetics. A companion volume from the same editors - From Molecular Genetics to Genomics: The Mapping Cultures of Twentieth Century Genetics - covers the history of molecular genetics and genomics.

Excerpt

Hans-Jörg Rheinberger and Jean-Paul Gaudillière

This book is about the mapping cultures of twentieth-century genetics. Classical Genetic Research and its Legacy is the first volume of a collection of papers resulting from a conference that was held at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin in March 2001. It covers the mapping procedures developed in the period of classical genetics, that is, roughly, in the first part of the twentieth century. An accompanying second volume-From Molecular Genetics to Genomics-covers the latter part of the twentieth century. We felt that a detailed history of genetic mapping was timely, if not overdue, in view of the recent developments in genomics epitomized by the announcement of a first draft of the structure of the human genome in the summer of 2000, which was eventually made public in February 2001, a month before the workshop from whose deliberations this book took shape.

It is possibly not too far-fetched to postulate that the spaces of our genetic knowledge about living beings have been organized around two major fields of metaphor, metonymy, and model with their concomitant practices. One of these fields gravitates around the theme of mapping, the other around that of information and communication. Whereas the concept of information has been given wide attention by historians and philosophers of science, particularly as far as the history of molecular biology is concerned, mapping has not. This book is about mapping. Both themes have not only transformed biology, they have also created powerful public images and icons associated with contemporary genomics, its potential uses and abuses: that is, the genetic map and the genetic program. Whereas the notion of information has become firmly embedded within the space once defined and confined by quite different conceptions of biological specificity and function, the idea of the map resides and exerts its power predominantly at the level of structure, organization, and correlation. And whereas mapping is clearly associated with the activity of organizing and of performing a certain kind and form of research, with its instruments and practices circulating in specific communities-that is, with a distinctly epistemological and performative meaning-the concept of information carries the burden of the new molecular genetic ontology. It should be an interesting exercise to ask why these two metaphorical realms could obviously coexist in such a productive manner and why they could develop such an enormous impact on the representation and the

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