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ISEK - Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies Social and Cultural Anthropology

Potentialities of CRISPR: An ethnography of reproductive medicine in Switzerland

Anina Meier


Projektbild Potentiale von CRISPR

The empirical PhD research project “Potentialities of CRISPR: An ethnography of reproductive medicine in Switzerland” explores gene-editing procedures (CRISPR/Cas9) in reproductive medicine in Switzerland from an ethnographic perspective. A case study is used to follow the different discourses, practices and actors involved at the moment of negotiating a (future) use of genome editing in human reproduction. It also traces the historical development of CRISPR and looks at applications in medicine, research and agriculture. This allows for contouring of the question of what it means to be and become human at the moment of a possible application of gene editing. The main research question is: How are reproductive and gene-editing technologies developed, applied, and discussed daily in IVF and CRISPR laboratories and clinics? A focus lies on the sub question of how experts negotiate and make futures through the technology of CRISPR, and what role expertise plays in the shaping of certain future imaginaries.

Through participant observation and interviews with health care professionals, scientists, including those involved in the URPP H2R, as well as other actors, the PhD project aims to gain insights into the question of how the good life, but also possible risk, is negotiated in reproductive clinics and laboratories in Switzerland through the making and editing of human DNA. What is the role of scientists and their expertise in shaping futures and in inscribing culture in biological processes? On a theoretical level, the project seeks to make a contribution to the Anthropology of Futures, Technologies and the Good Life.