Paris Conference: 'What can "do-it-yourself biology" do?'

Paris Conference: 'What can "do-it-yourself biology" do?'

December 13, 2014 | 09:30-19:30 | @ La Paillasse, Paris

- Organizers: Morgan Meyer (Agro ParisTech), Perig Pitrou (CNRS), Thomas Landrain (La Paillasse).

- Support: Pépinière Interdisciplinaire CNRS-PSL “Domestication et fabrication du vivant”.


English summary


Since several years, there has been a proliferation of spaces like La Paillasse in which it is possible, without necessarily being a professional scientist, to discover and practice biology. Through these activities of experimentation, various kinds of actors are confronted with reflections on the social and political implications of the increasing power that humans have over life. The central role given to experimentation in the process of learning explains why the field is referred to as "do-it-yourself biology" in English - "garage biology" to use the French, less adequate, term. When the political and critical dimensions of this approach are emphasized, it is frequently called "citizen science", even "biohacking," which does not hinder some projects - such as the one developed on biodegradable ink at La Paillasse – being transformed into startups and economic ventures. If we add to this the creative and recreational productions made by bioartists, it becomes clear that in these spaces several communities structured around very different models co-exist.


To better understand the avenues enabled by those who engage in new relationships with life, this workshop proposes to initiate a collective reflection to determine what do-it-yourself biology can do. This can be understood in at least two senses. While outlining the various possibilities opened up by manufacturing and testing, the challenge is to examine the capacity of a citizen science to intervene in the social sphere. We therefore propose to link the categories of action relying on biomaterials – e.g. producing, nourishing, programming, etc. - to wider actions through which the laboratory is connected to society and able to transform it – e.g. democratizing, educating, expertizing. Through this interdisciplinary dialogue, facilitated through workshops open to the public, the challenge is to better describe the actual practices to assess the real possibilities of change and innovation opened up by do-it-yourself biology.





09:45-10:15 - Accueil des participants

10:15-10:30 - Perig Pitrou (CNRS): Introduction

10:30-11:00 - Thomas Landrain (La Paillasse): “Biohacking : Future of biotech?"


11:00-11:30 - BREAK


11:30-12:00 - Helen Curry (University of Cambridge): “Tinkering: historical perspectives on do-it-yourself biology”

12:00-12:30 - Ana Delgado (University of Bergen): “How is DIYbio doing politics? On the political dimensions of a hack”

12:30-13:00 - Morgan Meyer (Agro ParisTech): “Opening up or selling out? Non-market and market rationales in DIYbio"


13:00-14:00 - LUNCH


14:00-14:30 - Primavera de Filippi (CNRS): “Bio-Art: exploring the boundaries between Life & Art”

14:30-15:00 - Sara Davies (University of Copenhagen): “Do Something: Hacking and Making (Biology) as Individualised Agency"

15:00-15:15 - BREAK


15:15-17:15 - split-up into working groups

17:45-19:00 - Final Discussion by a group of panelists, including Ludovic Jullien (UPMC), Thomas Heams (Agro ParisTech)


19:00                       COCKTAIL