This project, titled "Conceiving Ontology: Donor Conception and the Reality of Genetics", aims to explore some of the ways people conceptualize genetic relatedness. With a focus on persons that are in various capacities involved with the Californian realm of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) – e.g., donor conceived persons, parents of donor conceived persons, donors, health care professionals, legislators, and genetic experts – the project asks the following question: “What role does genetic heredity play in conceptualizations of relatedness and identity today?”. Furthermore, the project seeks to analyze the ontological implications of its interlocutors’ claims, particularly the ostensible objectivity of genetic truths and the “universal insights” of molecular bioscience that underpin both lay and expert ideas about genetic relatedness. These ideas have a poignant political dimension that manifests in conflicting perspectives regarding donor conceived people’s “right to know” and access information about their genetic parentage. Thus, in addition to exploring the epistemological truths defining the Californian realm of ART, the project also examines the ontological dimensions of these truths and how they match with novel bioscientific developments. Should donor conceived people be granted the opportunity to identify their anonymous genetic parent? If so, on what ontological grounds? Here, a fundamental theoretical question emerges: How do we as anthropologists best “take seriously” not only those that take genetics seriously, but also: should we, and if so, how should we, integrate within our discipline the various claims about the constitutive power of genetic heredity in making us who we are? With this latter question, the project finds itself at the intersections of epistemology/ontology, nature/nurture, and mind-independent/mind-dependent reality.
Mogseth, M. (2021). Temporality and Genetic Knowledge: Donor Conceived Persons’ Pasts, Presents, and Futures. In Tidsskrift for kjønnsforskning. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18261/issn.1891-1781-2021-02-03-07
Mogseth, M. (2021). Ontological Stratification: A Comparison of Californian Genetic Heredity and Kalulian Sprits. In Norsk antropologisk tidsskrift. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18261/issn.1504-2898-2021-01-03