project . 2021 - 2026 . On going

The BoS

The Body Societal: Unfolding Genomics Infrastructure in Cattle Livestock Selection and Reproduction
Open Access mandate for Publications and Research data
European Commission
Funder: European CommissionProject code: 949577 Call for proposal: ERC-2020-STG
Funded under: H2020 | ERC | ERC-STG Overall Budget: 1,497,000 EURFunder Contribution: 1,497,000 EUR
Status: On going
01 Apr 2021 (Started) 31 Mar 2026 (Ending)

Genomics technologies promise to shape the ideal animal of the future. Social sciences so far mostly took interest in the medical domain with the Human Genome Project and its aftermath. However, a great deal of fast-pace developments are occurring in livestock genomics. This has become a mundane genomics infrastructure, routinely used in late capitalist societies. This infrastructure offers to solve pressing societal issues, such as improving the health of animals, lowering their environmental impact or enhancing the biodiversity. Focusing on the case of cattle livestock, The BoS project aims to describe and analyze how societal values are being translated in bovine bodies. It asks the following guiding research questions: how are such values as health, environment or biodiversity incorporated in cattle selection and reproduction? Conversely, how are bodies transformed by these values, and through which techniques and practices? To answer those questions, The BoS project will provide a political anthropology of the genomics infrastructure, contributing to sociology of scientific knowledge, science & technology studies and environmental humanities. Phase 1 carries out three laboratory ethnographies in centres of scientific excellence that contribute to global livestock genomics, so as to provide context-sensitive accounts of how values of health, the environment and biodiversity are turned into knowledge. Phase 2 follows the knowledge in the wider world of social actors, carrying out participant observations and semi-structured interviews, to question the transformation of cattle bodies by genomics. The project is very innovative as livestock genomics offers an unprecedented case study of actual applications of genomics knowledge. Three PhD students will be respectively in charge of one of the fieldworks (one centre / one value). A postdoc researcher will investigate the historical contexts for each fieldwork and provide conceptual insight to the PhDs students.

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