Nanotechnology is commonly understood to involve the manipulation of individual molecules and atoms. Increasingly, healthcare practices in British Columbia are articulated through the nanotechnological in relationship to the body. The hope for better treatment and diagnosis of disease is located in the specificity of nanotechnological applications – the finely tuned targeting of cells and treatments geared towards individual molecular profiles. However, this same specificity also alarms regulators, activists and consumer groups in the potential for increased toxicity. Drawing from participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and theoretical orientations adopted by Susan Leigh Star and Jeffrey Bowker, this thesis explores three questions: 1) How can nanotechnology inhabit multiple contexts at once and have both local and shared meaning; 2) How can people who live in one community draw their meanings from people and objects situated there and communicate with those inhabiting another; and 3) What moral and political consequences attend each of these questions?
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Thesis advisor: Kenny, Michael
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