“Could we meet?”: A conversation on collaboration, feeling and failure
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Fitzgerald: Andy and Susie, Synthetic Biology: A Sociology of Changing Practices, the book you co-wrote with Kate Bulpin, is an ethnographic account of the emergence of synthetic biology in the UK, a new and much-hyped interdisciplinary field crossing engineering and biology, and in which you have been entangled for some years. Of course there is more than one kind of ‘changing practice’ in question here: in addition to new engineering and microbiological endeavours, a new kind of sociological or STS practice is at stake too, one that seems to be suspended awkwardly between ethnographic observation of, and collaborative participation in, a new science. Can you reflect on the emergence of this practice, as both a methodological and a literary tactic?
Balmer:Multiple kinds of practices were indeed at stake in the work. Susie had helped to devise the project and had ensured that the sociology component of the grant application was equally weighted, but how we were going to collaborate...
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