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Abstract

As biology moves into the digital realm, new ways of representing, manipulating, and appropriating life are emerging. In this paper, the authors examine systems and synthetic biology and map imaginaries of the making of life. The authors present how they have worked with scientists in three different laboratories in Europe and the U.S. by exploring those imaginaries with them. Focusing on scientific images, methods, and scientific traditions through a number of dialogic sessions, three imaginaries became apparent: living systems as networks, life as building blocks, and living systems as circuits. By working in this way, the authors could explore how scientists imagine their relations with nature (i.e., in terms of ownership) and their role as scientist. Exploring imaginaries of the making of life can open plural and broadly oriented and normative debates on nature, society, technology, and their relations. This kind of dynamic, interactive, and reflexive societal talk is, from the authors’ point of view, a central condition for possible sustainable futures.
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