Good Science and Silenced Security: On Anticipatory Governance in Biobanking

Thursday, February 27, 2020
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305
  • Dagmar Rychnovská

Seminar Recording:


About this Event: The governance of big data and the prevention of their misuse is among the most topical issues in current debates among security experts. But what does it mean when security is not an issue for the stakeholders governing big biomedical data? This paper answers this question by looking at what it describes as a peculiar omission of the issue of security in the biggest harmonization cluster of biomedical research in Europe - BBMRI-ERIC. While it does treat personal data, the risks and threats are constructed through a language of anticipation and self-governance rather than security. The analysis explains why: based on document analysis, interviews, and field research, it studies (1) how are risks and threats constructed in the research with big biomedical data, (2) what regime of their governance is established in this area, and (3) what are the implications for the practices of science and the politics of security. The paper argues that this silence is a by-product of bureaucratization and responsibilization of security, which is in biobanking characteristic by discourse and practices of responsible research, ethics, and law. The paper suggests that this regime of governance precludes the prospects of addressing bigger questions that biobanks may need to deal with in the future, such as regarding the access to the biomedical data by state or private actors and their use for policing, surveillance, or other types of population governance.


Speaker's Biography: Dagmar Rychnovská is Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the Techno-science and societal transformation group at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna. She holds a PhD in International Relations (Charles University in Prague), an MA in Comparative and International Studies (ETH Zurich and University of Zurich), and an LLM in Law and Politics of International Security (VU University Amsterdam). Her research interests lie at the intersection of international relations, security studies, and science and technology studies. Her current research explores security controversies in research and innovation governance, with a focus on bioweapons, biotechnologies, and biobanks.