The geography of biomedical data, lab mice and common cold viruses?

I am very excited to be joining the Technological Natures Cluster, after spending a productive and enjoyable eight years as lecturer in Geography at QMUL. I am, however, wondering what my new colleagues will make of my somewhat unusual companions: biomedical data, laboratory mice and common cold virsues? Not perhaps everyone’s chosen associates, but fitting collaborators for answering questions about how biomedicine reconfigures human-environment relations. My work is motivated by a concern with how, where, when and why humans, and more recently animals, become experimental subjects. Do we unknowingly allow our medical records to be co-opted for private sector genome research? Do we volunteer to be part of a clinical trial? Does our discarded, diseased flesh become a source for an immortal cell line? What difference do these complex and multiple modes of experimental enrolment make? How do they shape the ways in which we become distanced from our biological components, now rendered into new informational and data forms by scientific labour? Equally, how might biomedical experimentation change our relationship with non-human others? Can we learn to learn to live differently with viruses and bacteria if we frame our relations as experiment as opposed to conflict? How does the use of animals for biomedical research shape the way we relate to them? It seems though, I am in good company and looking forward to this Thursday’s talks on Genomic Medicine, the forthcoming series of Uehiro lectures on animal ethics, and a great looking series of lectures and workshops on ‘Life After the Anthropocene’ organised by Jamie Lorimer.

Dr Beth Greenhough

Associate Professor in Human Geography

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