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SyntheticHow Life Got Made$
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Sophia Roosth

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226440323

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226440637.001.0001

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Life Makes Itself at Home: The Rise of Biohacking as Political Action

Life Makes Itself at Home: The Rise of Biohacking as Political Action

(p.127) Chapter Five Life Makes Itself at Home: The Rise of Biohacking as Political Action

Sophia Roosth

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 5, "Life Makes Itself at Home," turns to new locales in which nonbiologists capitalize on the notion that biological engineering is becoming a “deskilled” task by choosing to conduct bioengineering in nonacademic locales. The chapter observes how amateurs and biotech hobbyists use the same genetic parts developed by synthetic biologists to engineer living systems outside professional laboratories: in kitchens, garages, and community hobby workshops. In occupying ambiguous territory between experimentation and manufacture, synthetic biology has allowed bioengineering to leave the laboratory. Today dilettantes dabble in synthetic biology in order to argue against the large-scale, deskilled, and highly proprietary status of industrial synthetic biology (and “Big Biology” and biotechnology more broadly). Doing biological work at home, these biohackers subvert and critique this state of affairs, demonstrating that bioengineering may be a domestic enterprise.

Keywords:   biohacking, amateurs, biotech hobbyists, democracy

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