Calculable bodies: Analysing the enactment of bodies in bioinformatics

Jan van Baren-Nawrocka*, Luca Consoli, Hub Zwart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we analyse how human bodies are understood and viewed in bioinformatics, partly based on participant observations of a basic bioinformatics course and interviews with bioinformatics researchers. With the proliferation of genomic data, bioinformatics has come to play a crucial role in developments in the biological and biomedical sciences. It is thus worth looking at the role of bioinformatics in current understandings of human bodies. Our analysis shows that bodies in this context can be understood as networked and calculable, along the lines of the analytical logic of informatics. Central to this view are the genome sequences that do not, as in earlier narratives on genes as essentially informational, contain bodies completely. Rather, bodies are enacted as accessible through these sequences. In the process, bodies are continuously matched to the digital image of a normal body. This normal body is an ideal rather than an average body, an ideal that arises from the possibilities and restrictions of science and computer technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-114
Number of pages25
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Funding was provided by Centre for Society and Genomics (NL).Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Nature Limited.


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