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Book and Media Reviews
November 8, 2006

Global Genomics

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;296(18):2263-2268. doi:10.1001/jama.296.18.2263

How does an anthropologist, trained to study the local and the particular, attempt to grasp something as complex and far-reaching as genomics and the globalization and “corporatization” of the life sciences? This is what Kaushik Sunder Rajan tries to do in Biocapital: The Constitution of Postgenomic Life.

Sunder Rajan's aim is to demonstrate how changes in the life sciences, the creation of “biotechnology,” and the development of genomic science can be fully understood only in relation to the global marketplace in which these developments occur. The author accomplishes this convincingly through a “multi-sited ethnography,” which takes the anthropologist to scientific conferences, the laboratories and cubicles of biotech start-ups in Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Mass, and the research parks and government offices of Hyderabad, India (dubbed “Genome Valley” by officials eager to present their state as a hub of biotechnology research and development).