History, Pastness and the Postgenomic Imaginary

Article Summary by Jerome de Groot

The mapping of the Human Genome is one of the most important advances in scientific knowledge in the past century. It means that we can ‘know’ the human body in increasingly complex detail. In this article I look at the ways that a number of artists – rappers, poets, and conceptual artists – have responded to this state of being ‘postgenomic’, and in particular, the strategies that they have begun to develop to resist being ‘known’ in this way. In the work of rappers Residente and Kendrick Lamar, artist Marc Quinn, and poets Zaffar Kunial and Michael Symons Roberts, we can see artists recognising the amazing potential of genetics to expand our knowledge of what it is to be human, but also their concern that rather than closing down, as I argue, rather than be constrained by ‘being’ postgenomic, these artists see an opportunity for expansion, innovation, and political critique

Read the full article on the Medical Humanities journal website.

 

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Jerome de Groot teaches at the University of Manchester. He is the author of the books Consuming History and Remaking History, as well as other work on public history and memory. His forthcoming book, Double Helix History, will look at the intersection of DNA and historical understanding.

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