, Volume 59, Issue 3-4, pp 327-331
Date: 26 Apr 2011

Staffan Müller-Wille & Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (Eds): Heredity Produced. At the Crossroads of Biology, Politics, and Culture, 1500–1870

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This substantial volume contains a selection of the papers that were presented at workshops held at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin under the general title, “A Cultural History of Heredity”. With the inclusion of several additional papers this volume provides a wide spectrum of topics, the overall aim being to explore ways in which our conceptions of heredity have been shaped by the cultural, social and political contexts in which they have been gestated.

This is a bold attempt to broaden the scope of historical investigation in the history of the science now known as “Genetics”. Stepping beyond the limited purview of the “history of Ideas”, and “a mere social history”, or even a disciplinary history, the editors explain that the scope of the workshops has been to explore “the history of a broader knowledge regime …” dating back to “the social illusions and illuminations of the Enlightenment.” To this end the focus has been on the developing meaning of inhe ...