I think that the name bioculture(s) captures what this blog will take as its different themes, the general theme being the interactions between biology (focused on genetics and neuroscience) society and culture. As an scientific “hybrid” who has been enrolled at the major university faculties (in my case at Lund University, Sweden. See my presentation for details) conducting undergraduate studies in genetics/molecular biology, social science (sociology and political science) and now doing my PhD within the humanities (ethnology), it is my firm belief that an interdisciplinary point of departure have a fair chance to pin down the different complexities that arise as our biological underpinnings are disclosed by the biomedical and natural sciences. Moreover, it also my firm belief that this interdisciplinary point of departure much involve a ongoing dialogue between scholars working in the different scientific fields, ending extreme social constructivist or biological deterministic standpoints which might bury the dialogue in the trenches rather than opening gates to an increased understanding and a collaborative knowledge “production”. However, the natural and social/cultural sciences do exist in different cultural realms which involve rather different ontological and epistemological standpoints, as well as different scientific practices, which do create borders that have to be discussed and analysed. As a scientific “hybrid” who can move fairly easy between these different scientific cultures, I would like to take the opportunity to raise some of my thoughts on these different cultures, as well as interdisciplinary scientific as such in this forum. To some extent the concept of interdisciplinary science has become something of a catch-word, dissolving itself into multidisciplinary scientific practices which, notwithstanding that these multidisciplinary practices do carry a value on their own, is not the same as an interdisciplinary approach to a research object. We might, against this background, wonder about the specificity of an interdisciplinary research problem? What are its ontological and epistemological aspects? Are these ontological and epistemological aspects different from a multidisciplinary or “regular” research problem? And how do we design these research problems in the concrete scientific situation? I obviously do not have the answers on these questions, but as I more than often encounter these questions in my everyday existence as a PhD student enrolled in an interdisciplinary research environment, I intend to share my tentative thoughts on these matters.
However, this blog is not only about the issue of interdisciplinary science, it is also intended to discuss various aspects of the interaction between biomedical/natural science and the society. This field of discussion will obviously be driven by the ongoing debate on hot-topics, as for example the issue of consumer genetics, but will also draw upon general features that I encounter in my own research, as well as other interesting topics that I will encounter in the course of my wanderings in the “thinking-space” between biology and culture. All views expressed on this blog is of course my own, and should not be linked to any of my affiliations.
Niclas Hagen, Lund