Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors That Shape Embryos

Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors That Shape Embryos

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Part Number:ISBN 155643474X 8500


Haraway, Donna Jeanne

Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields

Crystals, Fabrics, and Fields: Metaphors That Shape Embryos by feminist cultural historian Donna Haraway examines how scientists thought about and worked in the laboratory with animal embryos in the first half of the twentieth century. The dance of form and function of developing organisms inspired potent visual and verbal metaphors that guided experiments and helped make sense of the layered complexity of living embryos. In an age before information technologies and figures, the pivotal researchers studied herethe American Ross Harrison, Englishman Joseph Needham, and Austrian Paul Weissshaped experimentally-grounded, organic systems- theoretical approaches to the emergence of active biological form. In the process, differing philosophical commitments, relations to the flesh of language, political alignments, knowledge of Chinese scientific traditions, approaches to beauty, technical instrumentation, and hands-on procedures all helped shape the laboratory encounters of embryos and biologists in both flesh and word. The result is a powerful organicist approach to developmental biology as an inter-actionist, materialist, non-reductionist science that slid from favor in the early years of the molecular genetic revolution's fascination with determination by linear codesonly to remerge with great strength in the present.

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