Biology as cultural heritage

Project: Research

Layman's description

A study of Swedish biobanks seen in the light of developments within bio-philosophy, bio-hacking and bioart.

The human being has always domesticated plants and animals, but the notion of biological life as cultural heritage is quite recent. Nordiska museet (The Julita Farm in Södermanland) started, as the first Swedish museum, to set up gene banks with plant clones during the 1970s. The Nordic Gene Bank was founded in 1979 and was reconstructed 2008 into The Nordic Genetic Resource Center. Today large resources are devoted to a growing number of gene banks for plants, forest, domestic animals and fish, from local non-profit organizations to Svalbard Global Seed Vault, inaugurated 2008, and protected by the eternal permafrost a hundred meters below ground.

Which stories are created around gene banks, and how do the stories mix emotional and normative perspectives with biological and historical facts? How are the strive to preserve plant and animal species pure negotiated against the prospects to develop new hybrids from the gene pools, with desirable traits? How does the approach of cultural heritage preservation stand in relation to issues of immaterial property rights, e.g. regarding, on the one hand, the accessibility of the gene banks for researchers and the public, and on the other, bioprospecting, i.e. commercial patents on biological resources?
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date2011/01/012013/12/31

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