[EVENT] 2024 - The Biomolecular Humanities workshop

Dear ISBA society,

I hereby send our CfP for transdisciplinary workshop on Biomolecular Humanities, organised at Manchester on 15th of November 2024.

Best wishes, Ester Oras

The Biomolecular Humanities?

In 2013 Nikolas Rose wrote that ‘It is not philosophy but the life sciences which are leading an epistemic change in our relationship to the human’.

The decade after this statement has seen huge developments in technique, expansions of information, and the creation of vast infrastructures of data; but it has also seen challenges and opportunities for bridging the humanities and the natural sciences.

Biomolecular practices, archives, technologies and datasets have the capacity and the potential to obviate standard models of knowledge, practices of communication, and construction of archives. Enhanced genetic and biomolecular understanding suggests the possibility of a new type of humanities, one that understands the human entirely differently.

How are new biomolecular techniques – in proteins, DNA computing, biotechnological and molecular technology developments, genomics or molecular design – shifting research practice in the humanities? How might interrogation of approach, technique and modelling change methodologies and enable new avenues of enquiry? How will new biomolecular technologies, materials and design change memory, fashion, architecture, economics, and law?

Catherine Malabou, Karen Barad, Bruno Latour, Rita Felski and Lambros Malafouris amongst others have sought to conceptualise a new formulation of humanities thinking in response to rapidly developing scientific knowledge.

The development of bioarchaeology, biolinguistics, biosemiotics, biodigital philosophy, social science genetics, choreogenetics, molecular paleography and posthumanities approaches demonstrate that the interface between the sciences and humanities is expanding urgently. Molecular storage solutions are being developed at pace. Our future archives may be written in DNA, putting molecular matter at the heart of the humanities. These new interactions might allow for more sustainable futures, hybridisation of fields or the implementation of complex novel practices of investigation and argument for both humanities and sciences. At the same time there is need to ensure that ethics, bias, justice, equality and access are at the centre of developing intellectual and practical frameworks.

Can the humanities keep up with the speed and sheer expanse of data being produced?Can the sciences recognise, include and implement humanities approaches in true collaborations? What is the future for coproduction and multi/trans/inter disciplinarity work? How can dialogue between disciplines enhance future work? What can be learnt from other ‘new’ humanities research groupings?

This international workshop looks to survey the numerous ways in which biomolecular techniques and knowledge are changing and challenging humanities scholarship and practice.

20-minute papers (or 3-paper panels) might consider the following key terms and ideas, or address any other aspect of biomolecular humanities scholarship:

Aggregate Data Ethics Provenance Public Popular Complexity Archives Modelling Design Computing Practice Equality Storage Health Scale Synthetic Justice Obsolescence Posthuman Modernity

Please send a 300-word outline of your contribuiton to jerome.degroot@manchester.ac.uk or ester.oras@ut.ee by 7 May 2024. We will be programming and circulating final schedule by 17 May.

Workshop will take place in person 10-5 at the University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, UK, on the 15 Nov 2024. Workshop space is entirely accessible. If you are interested but cannot attend please contact us as we are looking to develop further meetings.



Professor Jerome de Groot (he/ him) Director, AHRC North West Consortium nwcdtp.ac.uk

English, American Studies and Creative Writing University of Manchester Oxford Road Manchester M13 9PL