Governing Bioscience in Globalization

Historians of Science and Medicine emphasize how the circulation of human biological material for global science involves complex exchange systems amongst foreign and local scientists. Here, notions of the gift and reciprocity underpin the idiom of the “science commons” that still inform scientific exchange today. In her talk, Van Wichelen examines how the advent of intellectual property rights and transnational regulations transform contemporary practices of global bioscientific exchange. Engaging a sociology of biolegality, she highlights a tenacious reckoning with the idioms of exchange that refuses co-optation by either gift or commodity. These operations reveal a complex reconfiguration of scientific exchange in the global bioeconomy.

Sonja van Wichelen grew up in the Netherlands, Indonesia, and Singapore. After completing her Ph.D. at the University of Amsterdam, and postdocs at Yale and Brown, she moved to Australia where she is now an Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Sydney. There she leads the Biopolitics of Science Research Network, which promotes the social study of bioscience to nurture an enhanced understanding of how they redefine society. Her research takes place on the cross-disciplinary node of law, life, and science in a globalizing world. Her funding is provided by Deborah Lunder and Alan Ezekowitz.