Eating History: Reading Epigenetic Science for a Metabolic Ethics
Using the tools of history and sociology of science, UCLA sociology professor Hannah Landecker explores connections between microbiome science and epigenetics, two areas of research which have exploded in recent years, but are rarely considered in relation to one another.
Mapping the relationship between eating, microbes, and epigenetic gene regulation is of considerable practical interest, bearing on frameworks for understanding human health and wellbeing, particularly concerning metabolic disorders arising from industrialized food and sleep patterns. At the same time, these alimentary questions are philosophical ones, concerning agency, individuality, and responsibility.
While the biochemistry of one-carbon metabolism or the characterization of cellular exosomes might not seem the usual topic for critical humanistic inquiry, this talk works through the science in an accessible way to show how genome integrity is directly implicated in the politics of the food supply.
The presentation by Landecker, author of Culturing Life (Harvard University Press), begins at 2:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Cone University Center, Room 210.
Her talk aims to think through epigenetic science toward a metabolic ethics, a framework for viewing human action in relation to human biology that foregrounds understanding of life as a metabolic process.