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The Anthropology of Biology

If the twentieth century was the century of physics, the twenty-first promises to be the century of biology. This subject examines the cultural, political, and economic dimensions of biology in the age of genomics, biotechnological enterprise, biodiversity conservation, pharmaceutical bioprospecting, and synthetic biology. Although we examine such social concerns as bioterrorism, genetic modification, and cloning, this is not a class in bioethics, but rather an anthropological inquiry into ho...

Start Date: Feb 01, 2009 Topics: Biology, Physics, Anthropology
Cost: Free

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Description

If the twentieth century was the century of physics, the twenty-first promises to be the century of biology. This subject examines the cultural, political, and economic dimensions of biology in the age of genomics, biotechnological enterprise, biodiversity conservation, pharmaceutical bioprospecting, and synthetic biology. Although we examine such social concerns as bioterrorism, genetic modification, and cloning, this is not a class in bioethics, but rather an anthropological inquiry into how the substances and explanations of biology increasingly cellular, molecular, genetic, and informatic are changing, and with them broader ideas about the relationship between "nature" and "culture." Looking at such cultural artifacts as cell lines, biodiversity databases, and artificial life models, and using primary sources in biology, social studies of the life sciences, and literary and cinematic materials, we rephrase Erwin Schrdinger's famous 1944 question, "What Is Life?" to ask, in the early 2000s, "What Is Life Becoming?"

Details

  • Dates: Feb 01, 2009 to May 25, 2009
  • Days of the Week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
  • Level of Difficulty: Beginner
  • Size: Massive Open Online Course
  • Instructor: Prof. Stefan Helmreich
  • Cost: Free
  • Institution: MIT OCW
  • Topics: Biology, Physics, Anthropology

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About MIT OCW: MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.

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