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Animal Genomics in Science, Social Science and Culture


Animals are commonplace in genomic research, yet to date there has been little direct interrogation of the position, role and construction of animals in the otherwise flourishing social science of genomics. Following a brief discussion of this omission, I go on to suggest that there is much of interest for the social sciences and the humanities in this field of science. I show that animal genomics not only updates and extends established debates about the use of animals in science and society, but also raises novel issues and promotes new ways of thinking about what animals are, and the social and biological relationships between animals and humans. Organising the science of interest into six themes (sameness, difference and classification; crossing boundaries; the maintenance of borders; farmyard supermodels; laboratory supermodels; knowing, relating and looking at animals), for each I review some of the science that is being done, some of the conceptual issues that are raised, and some of the social science that is or could be done. I conclude by briefly considering the development of socially responsive policies for animal genomics.

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Correspondence to Matthew Harvey.

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Open Access This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License ( ), which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

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Harvey, M. Animal Genomics in Science, Social Science and Culture. Life Sci Soc Policy 3, 1 (2007).

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