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De-SequencingIdentity Work with Genes

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Book (peer-reviewed)
Author Mahr Dana, Rehmann-Sutter Christoph, von Arx Martina,
Project Development of Personalized Health in Switzerland: Social Sciences Perpectives
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Book (peer-reviewed)

Publisher Springer Singapore, Singapore
ISBN 978-981-15-7727-7
DOI 10.1007/978-981-15-7728-4_1


A DNA molecule can be sequenced because it consists of a linear array of four different nucleotides: ATGC. Their sequence matters in roughly the same way as the sequence of letters matters for the words you are reading in this sentence. An organism however, as a dynamic, complex, and corporeal being, cannot in any conceivable way be sequenced. How could a person be sequenced? A deeper question emerges here: How can health and disease, lives, biographies, families, and their narratives be meaningfully related to genetic sequences? There is more than just a formal incompatibility between a life and a sequence. The ambiguity of the term ‘sequence’ is of a spatial and a temporal dimension. This relationship is the theme of this book. In other terms: how can a biomedical entity be de-sequenced in ways that allow us to scrutinise its philosophical, political, societal, and individual implications?