25 Sep 2023 16:00

SEMINAR | Decolonizing Biology? For a Historical Epistemology of Hybrids and Forgotten Archives

Ca' Bottacin, Main Hall

September 25, 4.00 pm
Ca’ Bottacin, Dorsoduro 3911 Venice
Main Hall 1^ floor

Decolonizing Biology? For a Historical Epistemology of Hybrids and Forgotten Archives 

Maurizio Meloni

Amid growing international calls to decolonize scientific curricula and practices, I discuss in this paper three areas of possible debate for a less imperial view of biology and the life-sciences. Firstly, I ask how compromised the epistemic history of biology is through its entanglement with imperial infrastructures of knowledge, from early botanical investigations, to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, to the twentieth century development of eugenics. Secondly, I trace a possible historical path toward a less Eurocentric and more inclusive view of bodies/environment practices before the rise of Western hegemony in the 16th c. Theorized in different cultural contexts from China and India to the Arabic peninsula and the Mediterranean, the transregional circulation of what has been called the permeable or porous body in the period between the 11th and the 15th C is used in this talk as a strategic venue to reconnect histories and relationship and destabilize taken for granted opposition of Western and non-Western medical systems. Finally, I look at recent work carried out with my team in the context of my Australian Research Council grant on Epigenetic Models of Plasticity in the Global South (2019-2023), particularly focusing on: a) the relationship between epigenetics and Indigenous cosmologies in Australia; b) epigenetics, colonial dispossession and historical trauma, and c) Epigenetics and Ayurveda in India. I suggest looking at hybrids and multiple cognitive temporalities in these three areas as a way to address issues of epistemic injustice and epistemicide, and provincialize dominant Euro-American narratives. 

Maurizio Meloni is a social theorist and a science and technology studies scholar. He is the author of Political Biology: Science and Social Values in Human Heredity from Eugenics to Epigenetics (Palgrave, 2016: Winner of  the Human Biology Association Book Award, 2020), Impressionable Biologies: From the Archaeology of Plasticity to the Sociology of  Epigenetics (Routledge, 2019), co-editor of Biosocial Matters (Wiley 2016), and chief editor of the Palgrave Handbook of Biology and Society (2018). He is currently Associate Professor in Sociology in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University, Australia, where he was previously an ARC Future Fellow (2019-2023).



The event will be held in English

Organized by

NICHE/ERC HealthXCross-Dipartimento di Filosofia e Beni Culturali


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