Cultural Factors of Inheritance
There is a trend in biological sciences to investigate how cultural factors (i.e. socio-cultural surroundings, nutrition or traumatic experiences) »encode« themselves in the genotype via processes such as »imprinting« or »genetic assimilation«. This interface between nature and culture is especially apparent in epigenetics, an area of study yet to be conceptualized in an interdisciplinary – rather than factorial – sense. With intersecting research perspectives from the history of science, psychology and cultural history, this project examines the epistemological, methodological and cultural-historical conditions of the recent integration of cultural factors in the biology of inheritance. The various usages of the term »epigenetics« and associated theorems will be reconstructed and analyzed in relation to sociopsychological and cultural-historical theories of cultural inheritance. The project thereby sheds light not only upon the underlying conceptions of »culture«, but also upon the ethical and social-political consequences implied in this »culturalization« of theories regarding biological inheritance. This is especially important with respect to our inter-generational responsibility of welfare and self-care.