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Lengthening lifespan/using life? An ethnographic exploration of the emergent scientific field of biogerontology

Gould, Sophie 2016. Lengthening lifespan/using life? An ethnographic exploration of the emergent scientific field of biogerontology. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis comprises an ethnographic exploration of the emergent scientific field of biogerontology (otherwise known as the biology of ageing) ‘in the making’ at its different sub-sites. Specifically, biogerontology, as a field on the frontiers of science research in the UK and US, seeks to redefine ageing as malleable and pathological. I examine this approach to ageing in relation to an ethics of care for all of life. By examining public biogerontology (conferences, media, academic publications), with an in depth focus on UK biogerontology, I illuminate biogerontologists’ perspectives and concerns, and I show how these are circulated in this public setting. By extending focus to two genetics laboratories where biogerontologists study ageing as a biological process (using model organisms), I provide insight into the mundane practices of biogerontologists, and I also offer comparison between the verbally expressed concerns of public biogerontologists and the practical labours of care in the laboratory setting. Moreover, I explore the fragmented, ambiguous, and complex ordering of care in the laboratory setting, which is part of viewing the field as a continual accomplishment. Whilst ‘good science’ as ‘excellence’ is shown to be the primary concern and care of the field, I also show moments in the laboratory setting where biogerontologists extend their care, as a practical and affectual labour, to the animal (models) that they are working with. As well as examining the standardisation of ageing, and the way that the animal (models) are figured as instruments, I conclude by showing that whilst life itself becomes instrumental in science experiment, the moments of care for life in the laboratory break from this instrumental relation. Furthermore, I show that these moments open up space for biogerontologists to reflect more deeply upon the field and its implications for the future of humanity and, also, all life on earth.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 March 2017
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2021 11:41

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