Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Breeding, Heredity, and Reproduction. The Scientisation and Industrialisation of Animals and Plants in the 19th and 20th century

Date: March 20 - 22, 2013

Convenor: Beat Bächi (Bern, SUI)

Breeding, heredity, and reproduction are key concepts and practices in the attempted scientisation, industrialisation, and commodification of organisms and reproductive substances in the 19th and 20th century. Despite numerous studies focusing genetics, life sciences and 'biopolitics', animals and plants still are marginal research objects in the social sciences and in the humanities. Hardly any attention has been paid to the production and circulation of knowledge and practices regarding animal and plant breeding in academia, industry, and agriculture. None the less, this knowledge and know-how are crucial for our understanding of 'race, blood, and genes'. Therefore, the main aim of the workshop was to discuss the scientisation, mechanisation, and economisation of living substances in farming from the point of view of history, sociology, and the life sciences. By analysing the function of new systems of property ownership, cultural techniques like statistics and changes in views on objectivity on reproductive theory and practices, the workshop generated new insights into the complex interactions between genetics, breeding science, and agricultural practices.


Christophe Bonneuil (Paris, FRA), Jean-Paul Gaudillière (Villejuif, FRA), Bernd Gausenmeier (Berlin, GER), Oskar Grüter (Zug, SUI), Ulrike Heitholt (Bielefeld, GER), Peter Moser (Bern, SUI), Jesper Oldenburger (Utrecht, NED), Bert Theunissen (Utrecht, NED), Steven van der Laan (Utrecht, NED), Jozef Visser (Utrecht, NED), Natalija Visser-Martinov (Utrecht, NED), Thomas Wieland (München, GER)

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