When two worlds meet : an examination of the intersection between scientific views of genetic testing and the realm of popular culture
Campbell, Tania Marie
This thesis explores the variety of ways in which scientific views of genetic testing are portrayed in the realm of popular culture. As a case study, I have used the identification of the gene for hereditary stomach cancer which occurred in New Zealand in 1998, and was the result of a partnership between the affected whanau and scientists from the University of Otago. Both the empirical and theoretical findings of this project have shown how physical processes, such as cancer, are constructed beyond biology, and how such accounts are not neutral or transparent. Rather, they are positioned to represent certain values and ideas, and this is even more evident when those affected are Maori. However, considering textual representations of the gene and cancer has revealed the importance of taking into account the fact that these 'things' are also physical and material. I consider the implications of this and consider the ways in which the whanau health workers negotiate the fetishism apparent in biomedicine. Despite its misgivings, biomedicine has immense benefits, some of which the whanau have manipulated and appropriated for their own good, although they do so on their own terms. Despite the many complexities involved in this case study, this is a positive and hopeful story where those involved in the stomach cancer gene project have emerged with improved solutions.
Advisor: Fitzgerald, Ruth
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Anthropology
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis