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Title: Editors introduction: biobanks as sites of bio-objectification.
Authors: Stephens, N
Brown, N
Douglas, C
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Life Sci Soc Policy
Abstract: Biobanks and biorepositories have become increasingly important and prevalent since the 1990s as holders and distributors of biological material. They exhibit significant diversity in form and function, from the very small to the very large, from the very specialised to the much more generic, holding collections of diseased and healthy resources, from human, animal and plant, and span private, public and third sectors. They also operate as key mediators in relationships between patients, researchers, regulators and companies as they hold and distribute tissue, data and social credibility. Furthermore, they remain active sites in the mediation of controversy, sometimes causing controversy, sometimes closing controversy. In doing, they become important nodal points of regulatory practice (Douglas et al. 2012; Hansen and Metzler 2012). Their proliferation has resulted in new and dynamic ethical and policy issues in need of critical engagement, some of which are addressed in this thematic issue. A growing literature exists addressing these important issues and opening new ones for inspection. Here we present a set of papers that contribute to this work. The distinctiveness of this thematic issue is the application of a unified theoretical approach. The thematic issue takes biobanks and biorepositories as empirical and conceptual sites for articulating and applying the theoretical tool kit of Bio-objects, Bioobjectification and Bio-identification (cf. Tupasela and Stephens 2013). The thematic issue builds upon the work of the ISCH COST Action IS1001 “Bio-objects and their boundaries” to offer a set of inter-related papers that retain analytical continuity while exploring different empirical configurations of biobanking practice (cf. Vermeulen et al. 2012). The authors represented here understand the contents of biobanks as bio-objects: referring to “a socially potent biotechnological entity which generates controversy due to its potential challenging of established classifications” (Webster A: Bio-objectification: definitions and tools unpublished internal document. COST Bio-objects action, unpublished). They seek to analyse the role of biobanks in determining the boundaries of bioobjects, through the examination of the active process of ‘bio-objectification’, meaning the process through which different types of bio-socio-technological categorizations contribute to the making of bio-objects. As a consequence of these novel relations, the boundaries between human and animal, organic and nonorganic, living and the suspension of living (and the meaning of death itself ), are questioned and destabilized, as new relationships are formed (Tamminen and Vermeulen 2012). The analyst’s task is to map how bio-objects are formed through bio-objectification processes, and to analyse the standardization, stabilization and labelling of a new entity
ISSN: 2195-7819
Appears in Collections:Dept of Social Sciences Media and Communications Research Papers

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