Patterns and Prevention in Postwar Medical Genetics
Johns Hopkins University Press 2016
How did clinicians learn to see the human genome? In Life Histories of Genetic Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016), Andrew J. Hogan makes the subtle argument that a process described by scholars of biomedicine as “molecularization” took place gradually and unevenly as genetic tools became applied to prenatal diagnosis. Hogan follows the notion of a “one mutation, one disease” perspective that provided the rhetorical and epistemic scaffolding for the Human Genome Project’s imaginary of genetic medicine as it emerged and developed within the clinic. His deft analysis of visual practices and careful unpacking of the scientific literature make for an engaging read. This fresh alternative to the well-worn heroic narratives of gene sequencing and molecular genetics should be of particular interest to scholars of disability.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history and politics of genetic counseling, check out my interviews with Alexandra Minna Stern and Stefan Timmermans.
Mikey McGovern is a PhD candidate in Princeton University’s Program in the History of Science. He works on computing, quantification, communication, and governance in modern America.