Article ID: CBB842572291

A Different Kind of Synthesis: Artificial Synthesis of Insulin in Socialist China (2019)


Ling, Vivian (Author)
Jiang, Lijing (Author)

History and Technology
Volume: 35
Issue: 4
Pages: 453-480

Publication Date: 2019
Edition Details: Special Issue: Biology and Technology Reframed: Historiographical Reflections and Opportunities
Language: English

In the 1950s, the studies of proteins through their synthesis captured the attention of a number of biochemists. Among teams that set out to chemically synthesize the protein insulin, a large team in the People’s Republic of China achieved success in 1966, months before the Cultural Revolution. By focusing on the ideological refashioning, material arrangement, and organizational style of the project, this paper addresses the political and material dimensions of the project, especially how it was reconstructed as an engineering project in-between biology and chemistry for the young republic. This case was different from the design rationales demonstrated in both American and German cases, in which insulin synthesis was viewed as either a challenging problem for biochemistry or primary research toward making synthetic fibers. The process reveals a fluid topography of the material, social, and political space that a group of biochemists could work with in socialist China.

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Article Karen A. Rader (2019) Introduction to the Special Issue Biology and Technology Reframed: Historiographical Reflections and Opportunities. History and Technology (pp. 366-373). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Xiong, Wei-min
Wang, Ke-di
Colman, Peter M.
Kent H. Redford
Freudenthal, Robert
Lindsay R. Craig
Zhongguo Keji Shiliao (China Historical Materials of Science and Technology)
Biological Theory
History of Psychiatry
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Social History of Medicine
Perspectives on Science
University of Chicago Press
Yale University Press
Shandong jiao yu chu ban she
Shandong Education Press
Synthetic biology; bioengineering
Medicine and politics
Discipline formation
Wei, Xincheng
Atwood, Margaret
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
20th century, early
United States
East Germany
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) (Australia)

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