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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Gender as a Category of Knowledge

Dr. Sonja Palfner

PhD Project:

Gene Passages: A Study on Molecular Biological and Medical Practices in the Assemblage of Breast Cancer Genes



Description of the Project


The breast cancer gene: what kind of »thing« is it that in the early 1990s could come to existence through research, clinical diagnostics, consultation, and early-stage diagnosis – between science and knowledge ? How are we to understand that people, things, and technologies grouped around the gene and at the same time, through that very grouping the gene first came into existence ? With the dissertation I pursued an analysis of biomedicine in terms of motion, relations, and becoming. The study centers on »Gene Passages« as an epistemological figure of thought and a methodological framework. Based my research in the history of science and the science and technology studies, I presupposed that the »breast cancer gene« is not a singular, natural, and steady entity, but rather that it is amorphous, existing in diverse stages or forms. In this spirit the research project historicizes and pluralizes these forms and examines their respective possibilities.



Sonja Palfner graduated in political science in Berlin, PhD thesis in political science at the Freie Universität Berlin in 2008. 2008-2010 Postdoctoral Fellow with the Research Training Group “Topology of Technology” (TU Darmstadt). Since 2010 head of a research project on e-sciences and digital research infrastructures (TU Berlin) and since 2012 head of a sub-project on the development of an integrated monitoring for virtual research infrastructures in the framework of the co-operative project TextGrid.


Selected Publications


Das Deutsche Klimarechenzentrum. Kartographie eines Rechenraumes. In: Zur Geschichte von Forschungstechnologien. Generizität – Interstitialität – Transfer, hg. v. Klaus Hentschel, Diepholz 2012. S. 455 – 477.

Labor. In: Ortsregister. Ein Glossar zu Räumen der Gegenwart, hg. v. Nadine Marquardt u. Verena Schreiber, Bielefeld 2012. S. 160 – 165.

Gen-Werden – Gen-Wandel ? In: Diskursiver Wandel, hg. v. Achim Landwehr, Wiesbaden 2010. S. 53 – 67.

Molekularbiologische und medizinische Praktiken im Umgang mit Brustkrebs-Genen. Wissen – Technologie – Diagnostik, Bielefeld 2009.