Genetics and biocolonialism in contemporary literature and film


  • Dr Clare Barker

    University of Leeds

Project summary

Dr Barker will explore how genetic research on vulnerable and isolated populations has been represented in global literature and film. Genetic research on these populations has led to the medical sciences and the pharmaceutical industry being framed as agents of ‘biocolonialism’. 

Using postcolonial critical methodologies to investigate creative depictions of genetics, Dr Barker will focus on work by indigenous, postcolonial, and minority writers. This project will explore: how indigenous writers and filmmakers have responded to human genetic research in their communities; the bioprospecting of plant resources for pharmaceutical use; and how the bioethical dilemmas facing doctors and scientists are negotiated in fiction and film. These strands will present a fuller picture of the cultural, political and ethical aspects of genetic research, and how literature and film can be used to help develop culturally sensitive research practices.