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 Nordic Party Members: Linkages in Troubled Times, Edited by Marie Demker, Knut Heidar, and Karina Kosiara-Pedersen

Representing and Intervening in the Age of Technoscience

Civil Society
Ingrid Metzler
University of Vienna
Ingrid Metzler
University of Vienna

This paper seeks to reflect on our responsibilities as scholars in the age of technoscience, in which a number of building blocks and foundations of modern life seem to be reshuffled. It bases its reflections on the case of the emergence of cell free fetal DNA testing in Austria. This builds on the ability of new sequencing technologies to transform short segments of fetal DNA that circulate in a pregnant woman‘s blood into information about the genome of a fetus—such as the presence of trisomies or so called microdeletion syndromes.This form of testing emerged over the last couple of years, seemingly driven by companies that designed the tests and traveling via a transnational network of professional experts. They adopted the test, endorsed and problematized it, and also regulated it, by envisioning scripts on how such tests ought to be used in practice. Thus, they were at once biomedical professionals and policy makers. Women were not absent from this adoption process, but they participated as customers and patients, and not as citizens. Overall, both the adoption of cfDNA testing and its phenomenon tended to be a „privatized phenomenon.“

The paper notes that there are very good reasons that help us understand how and why this regime of „bioliberalism“ emerged. Deeming it nonetheless problematic, the paper suggests that our past engagements with technoscience might have (unintentionally) coproduced the privatization of technoscience. It asks how we might engage with such phenomena in new ways, suggesting that we might seek to make public not the choices and actions of individuals, but the means of production of technoscience.
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