Bovine Abominations: Genetic Culture and Politics in the Netherlands

Peer Reviewed


This article examines how people in the Netherlands attempted to come to terms with the phenomenon of a genetically modified bull, illuminating the levels of enculturation surrounding the production, consumption, and use of new genetic knowledge. The article demonstrates that new genetic knowledge and practices are deeply entangled with Dutch national identity, the social ideal of tolerance, and anxieties about what Dutch identity is and means in relation both to the history of Nazi occupation and to contemporary immigration. In so doing I explore how this new knowledge and practice raise issues regarding purity and the porous border crossings and policings of contemporary biotechnoscience. The article also illustrates that there is no single story of genetics in the Netherlands but that people continually contest its meanings, significance, and appropriate use.

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