ROTO events

Postgenomic Determinisms: Environmental Narratives After the Century of the Gene

Topical Collection in the journal ‘History & Philosophy of the Life Sciences’

Call for Papers

Deadline for abstracts: 30th September 2021

From the perspective of the life sciences, the 20th century has often been described as the century of the gene (Keller 2000). However, since the turn of the century, new ‘postgenomic’ sciences have emerged and thrived. In fields like epigenetics, nutrigenomics and microbiome research, findings have appeared which link the material and social environment – including factors such as stress, toxins, lifestyles, nutritional habits, and income – to our ontogenetic and even transgenerational destinies. Diseases like cancer and type-2 diabetes, as well as obesity, autism, and trauma, are conceptualized as instances of social and environmental ‘programming.’ Whilst the new, more complex, picture that postgenomic science brings appears to hold the capacity to disrupt previous genetic determinist thinking, some scholars have suggested that these developments have simultaneously introduced deterministic narratives of their own.

We invite contributions from a range of disciplinary perspectives (including philosophy, history of science, sociology and STS) that will illuminate, analyse, and situate this arguably novel deterministic thinking and grapple with its underlying conceptual frameworks and historical past as well as with its broader societal implications. We are interested in contributions engaging with a range of ‘postgenomic’ fields, including but not limited to: epigenetics, microbiome research, metabolomics, exposomics, developmental origins of health and disease, personalised medicine & nutrition.

For more information, click here.

Please submit an abstract (500 words maximum) by 30th September 2021 to,, & We will invite full papers by 1st November 2021, and the deadline for full papers is 31st May 2022.

25th – 26th March 2021
8th RUB-Workshop for History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences

Postgenomic Determinisms: 
Environmental Narratives After the Century of the Gene

This workshop will focus on the new postgenomic trend towards environmental determinism. It aims to address (i) the conceptual foundations and theoretical presumptions of different forms of strong causal influences on organisms and human bodies. In addition, (ii) it will historically contextualize this new environmentalist trend, and (iii) explore the anthropological, social and political contexts affecting and being affected by these developments.

15th January 2021 – 22nd March 2021
Online seminar series promoting discussion of epistemic decolonization

“What is Epistemic Decolonization?”: An online seminar series promoting discussion of epistemic decolonization.

To register:

ROTO in the media

19.02.2020, RUB News

New publications

  • Baedke, Jan (2021): The origin of new levels of organization. In: D. Brooks, J. DiFrisco, W. Wimsatt (eds.): Levels of Organization in the Biological Sciences. MIT Press: Cambridge, 153-174
    [download pdf]
  • Jan Baedke, Alejandro Fábregas‑Tejeda, Guido I. Prieto (2021): Unknotting reciprocal causation between organism and environment. Biology & Philosophy 36 [download pdf]
  • Guido I. Prieto (2021): Review of: Kostas Kampourakis and Tobias Uller (eds.), ‚Philosophy of Science for Biologists‘. In: Journal for General Philosophy of Science [download pdf]
  • Abigail Nieves Delgado, Jan Baedke (2021): Does the human microbiome tell us something about race? Nature: Humanities & Social Sciences Communications [download pdf]
  • Francesco Catania, Jan Baedke, Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda, Abigail Nieves Delgado, Valerio Vitali, Le Anh Nguyen Long (2021): Global climate change, diet and the complex relationship between human host and microbiome: Towards an integrated picture. BioEssays [download pdf]