Inhabiting Postgenomic Worlds. Reconfiguring Responsibilities and Solidarities — B.STS Workshop KU Leuven, 7-8 December 2016

Inhabiting Postgenomic Worlds. Reconfiguring Responsibilities and Solidarities

B.STS Workshop

KU Leuven, 7-8 December 2016

previewThe full sequencing of the “human genome” has had and continues to have multiple range of consequences. In this so-called ‘postgenomic era’, promises, expectations, fears, hypes and hopes abound. This workshop intends to ground such narratives into an empirical question: what are current existing and/or emerging modes of inhabiting postgenomic worlds? By stressing ‘inhabiting’, we look out for situated accounts of how humans and non-humans engage in (post-)genomic entanglements. We unfold such entanglements in which the very existence of “genomes” and genomic capabilities do make a difference, i.e. entanglements where genomics define the conditions of possibility of the inter-relationships. They can be new, such as specific forms of knowledge or emerging interest groups (patient groups; citizens) but they can also emerge out of existing socio-technical institutions and practices that are being re-configured under the sign of postgenomics (e.g. insurance practices; genetic counselling; biomedical scientific practices). In this respect, this workshop pays careful attention to the articulation of postgenomics with experiential knowledge and personal, biographical or collective lifeworlds.

An important generic question that this workshop wants to address through these various sites and accounts is: What is at stake (in a particular entanglement)? This question obliges to connect dense empirical accounts with important philosophical, sociological and political issues such as solidarity, difference, responsibility, or the nature/nurture tension in these postgenomic endeavours. This way, such issues are apprehended as situated and not universal, which means that care must be taken while exploring the context-sensitivity of their political valence.

Possible questions include: how do (post-)genomic disease or risk classifications connect to the themes of solidarity and/or responsibility? How is the ‘environment’ defined in specific (epi-)genomic experiments, and how does this reconfigure and displace notions of responsibility? Which collectives or assemblages are made possible through the circulation of postgenomic data (and which aren’t)? How do the politics of the nature/nurture divide play out in specific experiments? What moralities are inscribed in genomic sequencing technologies? How will postgenomic research practices impact claims to justice and solidarity?



December 6, 2016 (pre-programme)

18.00 – 19.30 pm:  Lecture Prof. Stefan Timmermans (UCLA) at CeSO Solidarity Lecture Series (Centre for Sociological Research (CeSO), KU Leuven)


December 7, 2016: Start Workshop, Irish College, KU Leuven

09.30 – 10.00: Welcome and Introduction, Ine Van Hoyweghen & Kim Hendrickx (KU Leuven)

10.00 – 12.15 : Session 1: Articulating Patients, Biology, and Information (Chair: Catherine Fallon (tbc) (Ulg))

  • 10.00 – 10.30: “Genetic diagnosis: entanglement of temporalities and emergence of patients and relatives’ evidence-based activism in Belgium”, Fanny Duysens (Ulg)
  • 10.30 – 11.00: “The biological ‘fault’ that prompts responsible action’. A sociological analysis of genetic responsibility with Flemish BRCA mutation carriers” Annet Wauters (KU Leuven)
  • 11.00 – 11.30: “An Improbable Alliance: Can Genetic Counseling Learn from Divination?” Katrin Sohldju (VUB/KU Leuven)
  • 11.30 – 12.00 : Session Wrap up and practical information

12.00 – 14.00: Lunch

14.00 – 16.00: Session 2: Postgenomics and its Market-State Infrastructures (Chair: Pierre Delvenne (Ulg))

  • 14.00 -14.30: “Translating postgenomics from ‘bedside’ to ‘billing’: Tracing solidarities in delivery of biomedical innovations” Erik Aarden (Vienna University)
  • 14.30 – 15.00: “Rare Diseases and orphan drugs for the social sciences” Marc Dooms (KU Leuven)
  • 15.00 – 15.30: “From solidarity to fairness? Taking behaviour into account in insurance products” Gert Meyers (KU Leuven)
  • 15.30 – 16.00: “Biopolitics, Foucault and Governmentality through wearable devices” (Elisa Lievevrouw (KU Leuven)
  • 16.00 – 16.15: Session Wrap Up

16.15: Coffee break

16.30: Session 3: Solidarity beyond Biopolitical Contours? (Chair: Rita Schepers (KU Leuven))

  • 16.30 – 17.00: “The Genome as Sign: A Pragmatist Semiotic Analysis”, Stefan Timmermans, (UCLA)
  • 17.00 -17.30: “A Pragmatist take on Epigenetics”, Kim Hendrickx & Ine Van Hoyweghen (KU Leuven)
  • 17.30 – 17.45: Session Wrap up

20.00: Belgian Dinner


  • December 8, 2016: Irish College, KU Leuven

09.30-11.00: Session 4: The Political Space between Lab and Clinic (Chair: Pascal Borry (KU Leuven))

  • 09.30-10.00: “Reimagining care. A comparison of the emergence of next generation sequencing technologies and the transformation of democracy in Germany, Italy, and Austria” Ingrid Metzler (Vienna University)
  • 10.00 – 10.30: “Modelling in the sensible world: the practice and politics of population-making in non-invasive prenatal diagnosis” Francois Thoreau (Ulg)
  • 10.30 – 11.00: “Responsibilities in the reporting of results from diagnostic NGS: Perspectives of laboratory personnel” Danya Vears (KU Leuven)

11.00: Coffee break

11.30 – 12.30 : Workshop wrap up & future plans (Kim Hendrickx & Ine Van Hoyweghen, KU Leuven)

12.30: Goodbye lunch


Organization: Prof. Ine Van Hoyweghen, Life Sciences & Society Lab, CeSO, KU Leuven; Belgian Science, Technology & Society Network (B.STS)

Author: B.STS

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