20 found
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  1. Impressionable Biologies: From the Archaeology of Plasticity to the Sociology of Epigenetics.Maurizio Meloni - 2019 - New York, USA: Routledge.
    Chapter 1st of the book. This chapter explores the fundamental ambiguity of the concept of plasticity – between openness and determination, change and stabilization of forms. This pluralism of meanings is used to unpack different instantiations of corporeal plasticity across various epochs, starting from ancient and early modern medicine, particularly humouralism. A genealogical approach displaces the notion that plasticity is a unitary phenomenon, coming in the abstract, and illuminates the unequal distribution of different forms of plasticities across social, gender, and (...)
  2. The politics of environments before the environment: Biopolitics in the longue durée.Maurizio Meloni - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 88 (C):334-344.
    Our understanding of body–world relations is caught in a curious contradiction. On one side, it is well established that many concepts that describe interaction with the outer world – ‘plasticity’ or ‘metabolism’- or external influences on the body - ‘environment’ or ‘milieu’ – appeared with the rise of modern science. On the other side, although premodern science lacked a unifying term for it, an anxious attentiveness to the power of ‘environmental factors’ in shaping physical and moral traits held sway in (...)
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    A Postgenomic Body: Histories, Genealogy, Politics.Maurizio Meloni - 2018 - Body and Society 24 (3):3-38.
    This article sets the stage for a genealogy of the postgenomic body. It starts with the current transformative views of epigenetics and microbiomics to offer a more pluralistic history in which the ethical problem of how to live with a permeable body – that is plasticity as a form of life – is pervasive in traditions pre-dating and coexisting with modern biomedicine (particularly humoralism in its several ramifications). To challenge universalizing narratives, I draw on genealogical method to illuminate the unequal (...)
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  4.  25
    Indigenous Knowledge in a Postgenomic Landscape: The Politics of Epigenetic Hope and Reparation in Australia.Maurizio Meloni, Emma Kowal & Megan Warin - 2020 - Science, Technology, and Human Values 45 (1):87-111.
    A history of colonization inflicts psychological, physical, and structural disadvantages that endure across generations. For an increasing number of Indigenous Australians, environmental epigenetics offers an important explanatory framework that links the social past with the biological present, providing a culturally relevant way of understanding the various intergenerational effects of historical trauma. In this paper, we critically examine the strategic uptake of environmental epigenetics by Indigenous researchers and policy advocates. We focus on the relationship between epigenetic processes and Indigenous views of (...)
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  5. How Biology Became Social and What It Means for Social Theory.Maurizio Meloni - 2014 - The Sociological Review 62:593-614.
    In this paper I first offer a systematic outline of a series of conceptual novelties in the life-sciences that have favoured, over the last three decades, the emergence of a more social view of biology. I focus in particular on three areas of investigation: (1) technical changes in evolutionary literature that have provoked a rethinking of the possibility of altruism, morality and prosocial behaviours in evolution; (2) changes in neuroscience, from an understanding of the brain as an isolated data processor (...)
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  6. Porous Bodies: Environmental Biopower and the Politics of Life in Ancient Rome.Maurizio Meloni - 2021 - Theory, Culture and Society 38 (3):91-115.
    The case for an unprecedented penetration of life mechanisms into the politics of Western modernity has been a cornerstone of 20th-century social theory. Working with and beyond Foucault, this article challenges established views about the history of biopower by focusing on ancient medical writings and practices of corporeal permeability. Through an analysis of three Roman institutions: a) bathing; b) urban architecture; and c) the military, it shows that technologies aimed at fostering and regulating life did exist in classical antiquity at (...)
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  7. The social brain meets the reactive genome: neuroscience, epigenetics and the new social biology.Maurizio Meloni - 2014 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8.
    The rise of molecular epigenetics over the last few years promises to bring the discourse about the sociality and susceptibility to environmental influences of the brain to an entirely new level. Epigenetics deals with molecular mechanisms such as gene expression, which may embed in the organism “memories” of social experiences and environmental exposures. These changes in gene expression may be transmitted across generations without changes in the DNA sequence. Epigenetics is the most advanced example of the new postgenomic and context-dependent (...)
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  8. Disentangling life: Darwin, selectionism, and the postgenomic return of the environment.Maurizio Meloni - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 62:10-19.
    In this paper, I analyze the disruptive impact of Darwinian selectionism for the century-long tradition in which the environment had a direct causative role in shaping an organism’s traits. In the case of humans, the surrounding environment often determined not only the physical, but also the mental and moral features of individuals and whole populations. With its apparatus of indirect effects, random variations, and a much less harmonious view of nature and adaptation, Darwinian selectionism severed the deep imbrication of organism (...)
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  9. Thinking embodiment with genetics: epigenetics and postgenomic biology in embodied cognition and enactivism.Maurizio Meloni & Jack Reynolds - 2020 - Synthese 198 (11):10685-10708.
    The role of the body in cognition is acknowledged across a variety of disciplines, even if the precise nature and scope of that contribution remain contentious. As a result, most philosophers working on embodiment—e.g. those in embodied cognition, enactivism, and ‘4e’ cognition—interact with the life sciences as part of their interdisciplinary agenda. Despite this, a detailed engagement with emerging findings in epigenetics and post-genomic biology has been missing from proponents of this embodied turn. Surveying this research provides an opportunity to (...)
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  10. The 'Government of Men': Moving Beyond Foucault’s Binaries.Maurizio Meloni & Galib Bashirov - 2023 - Economy and Society.
    Recent controversies surrounding Michel Foucault suggest tensions and unresolved issues in his unfinished work. Here we interrogate Foucault’s legacy in relation to his claim that the welfare-state is a secularization of the Christian pastorate. We challenge Foucault’s binary narrative of the Christian flock versus the Graeco-Roman citizen and expand the focus to other ‘technologies of power’ in medieval Islam. Rather than an outburst of governmentality in modernity, we suggest a transregional and longue durée history of which the Christian pastorate was (...)
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  11. Biopolitics After Covid. Notes from the Crisis.Maurizio Meloni & Miguel Vatter - 2023 - Theory and Event 26 (2):368-392.
    In this essay we take stock of the shortcomings, successes, and promises of ‘biopolitics' to understand and frame global health crises such as COVID-19. We claim that rather than thinking in terms of a special relationship between Western modernity and biopolitics, it is better to look at a longer and more global histories of populations’ politics of life and health to situate present and future responses to ecological crises. Normatively, we argue for an affirmative biopolitics, that at once de-securitizes our (...)
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  12.  16
    The Epigenetic Imperative: Responsibility for Early Intervention at the Time of Biological Plasticity.Michelle Pentecost & Maurizio Meloni - 2018 - American Journal of Bioethics 18 (11):60-62.
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  13. Moralizing biology: The appeal and limits of the new compassionate view of nature.Maurizio Meloni - 2013 - History of the Human Sciences 26 (3):82-106.
    In recent years, a proliferation of books about empathy, cooperation and pro-social behaviours (Brooks, 2011a) has significantly influenced the discourse of the life-sciences and reversed consolidated views of nature as a place only for competition and aggression. In this article I describe the recent contribution of three disciplines – moral psychology (Jonathan Haidt), primatology (Frans de Waal) and the neuroscience of morality – to the present transformation of biology and evolution into direct sources of moral phenomena, a process here named (...)
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  14.  37
    Moralizing biology.Maurizio Meloni - 2013 - History of the Human Sciences 26 (3):82-106.
    In recent years, a proliferation of books about empathy, cooperation and pro-social behaviours (Brooks, 2011a) has significantly influenced the discourse of the life-sciences and reversed consolidated views of nature as a place only for competition and aggression. In this article I describe the recent contribution of three disciplines – moral psychology (Jonathan Haidt), primatology (Frans de Waal) and the neuroscience of morality – to the present transformation of biology and evolution into direct sources of moral phenomena, a process here named (...)
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  15.  9
    Correction to: Thinking embodiment with genetics: epigenetics and postgenomic biology in embodied cognition and enactivism.Maurizio Meloni & Jack Reynolds - 2021 - Synthese 199 (1):5415-5416.
    The article Thinking embodiment with genetics: epigenetics and postgenomic biology in embodied cognition and enactivism, written by Maurizio Meloni and Jack Reynolds, was originally published electronically on the publisher’s internet portal on 18 June 2020 without open access. With the author’ decision to opt for Open Choice the copyright of the article changed on 6 November 2020 to ©The Author 2020 and the article is forthwith distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution.
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  16.  25
    Political biology: In search of a new epistemic space between STS and biopolitical theory- A response.Maurizio Meloni - 2018 - History of the Human Sciences 31 (1):136-142.
  17.  33
    Naturalism as an Ontology of Ourselves.Maurizio Meloni - 2011 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 2011 (155):151-174.
    ExcerptAs Jürgen Habermas has recently pointed out, scientific naturalism represents one of the “two countervailing trends that mark the intellectual tenor of our age,” the other being religious worldviews.1 In a broader intellectual landscape dominated by research programs in neuro- and cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, behavioral genetics and so on, contemporary naturalism symbolizes not only the meta-philosophical framework of these leading intellectual enterprises, but more fundamentally a sort of zeitgeist for our epoch. This is true not only at an epistemological (...)
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  18. An unproblematized truth: Foucault, biopolitics, and the making of a sociological canon.Maurizio Meloni - 2022 - Social Theory and Health:online.
    Foucault’s argument that a major break occurred in the nature of power in the European Eighteenth century—an unprecedented socialization of medicine and concern for the health of bodies and populations, the birth of biopolitics—has become since the 1990s a dominant narrative among sociologists but is rarely if ever scrutinized in its premises. This article problematizes Foucault’s periodization about the politics of health and the way its story has been solidified into an uncritical account. Building on novel historiographic work, it challenges (...)
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  19.  7
    Forgetting how we ate: personalised nutrition and the strategic uses of history.Christopher Mayes & Maurizio Meloni - 2024 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 46 (1):1-28.
    Personalised nutrition (PN) has emerged over the past twenty years as a promising area of research in the postgenomic era and has been popularized as the new big thing out of molecular biology. Advocates of PN claim that previous approaches to nutrition sought general and universal guidance that applied to all people. In contrast, they contend that PN operates with the principle that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to dietary guidance. While the molecular mechanisms studied within (...)
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  20. A biosocial return to race? A cautionary view for the postgenomic era.Maurizio Meloni - 2022 - American Journal of Human Biology.
    Recent studies demonstrating epigenetic and developmental sensitivity to early environments, as exemplified by fields like the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) and environmental epigenetics, are bringing new data and models to bear on debates about race, genetics, and society. Here, we first survey the historical prominence of models of environmental determinism in early formulations of racial thinking to illustrate how notions of direct environmental effects on bodies have been used to naturalize racial hierarchy and inequalities in the past. (...)
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