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About Arts, Culture & Human Biotechnology


Mention genetic technologies or human enhancement to the average person, and more likely than not their first response will reference the 1997 film Gattaca or Aldous Huxley's 1932 classic, Brave New World. Art and popular culture profoundly influence how we think about ourselves and each other, and portrayals of human biotechnologies are likely to affect how we think about future social arrangements. Ultimately this can shape the policy decisions we make today.

The social meanings of human biotechnologies have been pondered in film, television shows, painting, and other visual arts; in speculative fiction, novels, and children's books, and other literature; in performance and experiential art; and even in a project that produced a living rabbit engineered to glow in the dark.



‘Races of Mankind’ Sculptures, Long Exiled, Return to Display at Chicago’s Field Museumby Jennifer SchuesslerThe New York TimesJanuary 20th, 2016The bronzes, unveiled in 1933 as "the finest racial portraiture the world has yet seen," were banished to storage in 1969 as relics of discredited ideas about human difference.
Jordan Middle School, other schools now up for renamingby Elena KadvanyPalo Alto WeeklyJanuary 13th, 2016Middle school students and their parents are objecting to their school being named for Stanford University founding president David Starr Jordan, because of his involvement in the eugenics movement.
Whiteness and “Making a Murderer”: Manitowoc, the “One-Branch Family Tree” and the Sinister Race Science of “Degenerate Whites”by Kate TuttleSalonJanuary 7th, 2016The Avery clan’s reputation as "trouble" echoes myths planted by inane, racist eugenicists in the early 1900s.
The problem with science journalism: we’ve forgotten that reality matters mostby Brooke BorelThe GuardianDecember 30th, 2015It is the reporter's job to maintain skepticism, look beyond hypotheses and data, find conflicts of interest, trace the money, look at power structures, and see who is excluded or marginalized.
Livetweeting #GeneEditSummit: Democratized Debate or Segregated Conversations?by Elliot Hosman, Biopolitical TimesDecember 10th, 2015Though #GeneEditSummit was trending on Twitter, inclusive public debate must be more robust than the livetweeting of insular stakeholder meetings.
Re-Watching 'Gattaca' at the Dawn of the Age of CRISPR and Genetic Editingby Yasmin TayagInverseNovember 23rd, 2015Now that its predictions are becoming true, Andrew Niccol's 1997 gene-engineered dystopia is especially uncomfortable.
Move Over, Jony Ive — Biologists Are the Next Rock Star Designersby Liz StinsonWIREDNovember 18th, 2015A biotech startup that calls itself an "organism design foundry" and works with designers and artists is part of a US bioeconomy that already generates $350 billion annually.
Would you take a genetic test that could lay bare your destiny?by Rowan HooperNew ScientistOctober 29th, 2015Plaques and Tangles, a play now at the Royal Court in London, takes on issues of personal genomics, carrier status testing, and Alzheimer's, asking: "Are we architects of our own destiny or prisoners of our genes?"
Expanding Notions of Discrimination: Genetic Information & Competitive Sportsby Craig KlugmanBioethics.netOctober 16th, 2015The International Olympic Committee has new hormonal guidelines to segregate athletes into two competitive sex categories.
Born that way? ‘Scientific’ racism is creeping back into our thinking. Here’s what to watch out for.by W. Carson Byrd & Matthew W. HugheyWashington PostSeptember 28th, 2015Recent studies show the media and white communities embracing the idea of racial genetic differences, twisting history and circumventing effective policy strategies.
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