sub-projects

EXCHANGE’s ground-breaking approach aims at: understanding cultural imaginaries about forensic genetics and its surveillance-related utopias and dystopias; mapping the intersections between genomics and the criminal justice system; analysing the interconnections between geopolitics, national identities and assumptions about criminal conducts; following the process of ‘co-production’ of science and social order through forensic genetics.


Subproject 1

Talking Science

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The transnational exchange of DNA data in the EU involves different national positioning and contexts. Such complex picture will be approached through interviews with relevant forensic experts – namely, all the “National Contact Points” for DNA data under the Prüm system – in order to understand their expectations regarding the potential impact of DNA technologies and databasing in fighting crime and terrorism.

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Subproject 2

Doing Science

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There is a widespread belief that DNA technologies have an unrivalled capacity to provide identification of crime perpetrators. This sub-project studies processes of technological and scientific innovation as key ingredients in the construction of credibility of DNA evidence. Other topics include communication patterns within the forensic science community and the role of private companies in the provision of forensic services.

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Subproject 3

Travelling DNA

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The operation and effective mobilisation of transnationally exchanged DNA data are made visible through criminal investigation of cross-border criminal cases. Discourses about criminal cases circulating among the different domains of practice – the forensic science, the criminal justice and the media – are studied in this sub-project. Furthermore, we are interested in investigating how human rights, data protection and issues related to the distinctive statutory laws are addressed in different EU Member States.

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Subproject 4

Globalising-Localising Forensic Genetics

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This sub-project relies on the comparison of four national cases – the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom – differing with regard to their conditions and positioning in relation to the transnational exchange of DNA data. It aims to understand how the forensic laboratories are organized in different countries and how these services are positioned in relation to the social, political, and legal contexts in which they operate.

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Subproject 1

Talking Science

View

The transnational exchange of DNA data in the EU involves different national positioning and contexts. Such complex picture will be approached through interviews with relevant forensic experts – namely, all the “National Contact Points” for DNA data under the Prüm system – in order to understand their expectations regarding the potential impact of DNA technologies and databasing in fighting crime and terrorism.

Subproject 2

Doing Science

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There is a widespread belief that DNA technologies have an unrivalled capacity to provide identification of crime perpetrators. This sub-project studies processes of technological and scientific innovation as key ingredients in the construction of credibility of DNA evidence. Other topics include communication patterns within the forensic science community and the role of private companies in the provision of forensic services.

Subproject 3

Travelling DNA

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The operation and effective mobilisation of transnationally exchanged DNA data are made visible through criminal investigation of cross-border criminal cases. Discourses about criminal cases circulating among the different domains of practice – the forensic science, the criminal justice and the media – are studied in this sub-project. Furthermore, we are interested in investigating how human rights, data protection and issues related to the distinctive statutory laws are addressed in different EU Member States.

Subproject 4

Globalising-Localising Forensic Genetics

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This sub-project relies on the comparison of four national cases – the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom – differing with regard to their conditions and positioning in relation to the transnational exchange of DNA data. It aims to understand how the forensic laboratories are organized in different countries and how these services are positioned in relation to the social, political, and legal contexts in which they operate.

publications

2016

Frois, Catarina; Machado, Helena (2016), Modernization and development as a motor of polity and policing, in Ben Bradford; Beatrice Jauregui; Ian Loader; Jonny Steinberg (eds.), The SAGE handbook of global policing. London: Sage Publications, 391-405.

Ljosne, Isabelle; Mascalzoni, Deborah; Soini, Sirpa; Machado, Helena; Bentzen, Heidi; Rial-Sebbag, Emanuelle; D'Abramo, Flavio; Witt, Michal; Schamps, Geneviève; Katić, Višnja; Krajnovic, Dusica; Harris, Jennifer (2016), Feedback of individual genetic results to research participants: Is it feasible in Europe?, Biopreservation and Biobanking, Online first; 1-8. doi: 10.1089/bio.2015.0115

Machado, Helena; Silva, Susana (2016), Voluntary participation in forensic DNA databases: Altruism, resistance, and stigma, Science, Technology & Human Values, 41(2): 322-343, doi: 10.1177/0162243915604723.

Santos, Filipe (2016), Overview of the implementation of the Prüm Decisions, Report update, November 2016. Download

Toom, Victor; Wienroth, Matthias; M’charek, Amade; Prainsack, Barbara; Williams, Robin; Duster, Troy; Heinemann, Torsten; Kruse, Corinna; Machado, Helena; Murphy, Erin (2016), Approaching ethical, legal and social issues of emerging forensic DNA phenotyping (FDP) technologies comprehensively: Reply to ‘Forensic DNA phenotyping: Predicting human appearance from crime scene material for investigative purposes’ by Manfred Kayser, Forensic Science International: Genetics, 22: e1-e4. doi: 10.1016/j.fsigen.2016.01.010

2015

Machado, Helena; Silva, Susana (2015), Public perspectives on risks and benefits of forensic DNA databases: An approach to the influence of professional group, education, and age, Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 35(1-2): 16-24, doi: 10.1177/0270467615616297

meetings

2017/03/21

Fragilities of Portuguese Law in the international Exchange of DNA data – Implications of the Prüm Treaty and Decisions

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2017/03/21

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Fragilities of Portuguese Law in the international Exchange of DNA data – Implications of the Prüm Treaty and Decisions

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 21 March 2017

Guest Speaker: Henrique Curado (Escola Superior de Tecnologias da Saúde do Porto)

Portugal has international commitments inherent to the Prüm Decisions. Drawing from an analysis of the law that regulates the Portuguese forensic DNA profiles database, Law 5/2008, jurist Henrique Curado explored the gaps in Portuguese law in what regards the transference of personal data inside and outside the European Union. The seminar focused particularly on the legal and ethical challenges raised by the principle of exemption of previous control to the transmission of personal data when this is necessary or legally required to the protection of an important public good, as it is the matter of international cooperation against terrorism and organized crime.

2017/02/20

Think Tank Day | Ethical implications of NGS in the criminal justice system

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2017/02/20

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Think Tank Day | Ethical implications of NGS in the criminal justice system

Bristol Hotel | Frankfurt am Main, Germany | 20 February 2017

Massive Parallel Sequencing technologies have developed rapidly over the past decade while the costs associated with sequencing have declined. The potential utility, need and declining costs of MPS increase the feasibility of their introduction into criminal investigations. This Think Tank Day explored, from the perspective of the social sciences and forensic sciences, the complexities surrounding the application of MPS technologies and the ethical issues which may arise with their implementation.

Some of the general questions that guided our reflection were:

– The risks and benefits of using different MPS-based technologies in specific contexts, and the risks and benefits of not using them

– The balance between individual and collective rights and interests

– Transparency and public trust

– Public understanding and debate

– Future monitoring

2016/10/11

Criminal brains: Forensic uses of neuroscience and its social implications

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2016/10/11

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Criminal brains: Forensic uses of neuroscience and its social implications

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 11 October 2016

Guest Speaker: Torsten Heinemann (University of Hamburg | University of California, Berkeley)

Discussant: Tiago Pires Marques (CES)

 

In recent years, neuroscientists have made fundamental progress in the study of human behaviour and mental processes. This progress has not been limited to basic research, and neuroscientific knowledge is increasingly applied in everyday life. For example, there are several attempts to use neuroscience in forensic contexts, e.g. for lie detection, or in order to predict and prevent criminal behaviour. This research is expected to help identify individuals at risk of committing violent crimes even before they actually do so. It therefore promises to revolutionise crime prevention, prosecution and intervention programmes in the near future.

 

At the same time, forensic uses of neuroscience raise serious social concerns ranging from the operationalisation of criminal behaviour or “the truth” to the (envisioned) application of the results.

 

This talk provided an overview on forensic neuroscience with a focus on the neurobiology of criminal behaviour. Torsten Heinemann argued that neuroscientific research reaffirms and reproduces categories of social inequality such as race, class, and gender that it aims to overcome. His approach to neurosciences contributes to the ongoing debate on biological citizenship by outlining so far neglected aspects of potential exclusion and stigmatisation on the basis of biological traits.

2016/07/08

The bank of genetic profiles for criminal prosecution in Brazil

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2016/07/08

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The bank of genetic profiles for criminal prosecution in Brazil

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 8 July 2016

Guest Speaker: Rodrigo Grazinoli Garrido (Institute for Research and Expertise in Forensic Genetics, Rio de Janeiro)

Discussant: Maria João Porto (Director of the Genetics and Forensic Biology Service, INMLCF-IP)

 

The seminar, organised in collaboration with Susana Costa (CES), focused on the process of implementation – with an overview of three years of operation – of the Brazilian Integrated Network of DNA Profiles Databases. While emphasising the crucial involvement of the FBI in the implementation of CODIS and in supporting and training Brazilian forensic geneticists, Rodrigo Garrido also discussed the legislative issues surrounding the establishment of the legal basis for the operation of DNA profiling in Brazil. In this context, the lack of rigid criteria and guidelines provided by Law 12.654/2012 has been supplemented by resolutions by the Management Board of the Database Network.

 

Echoing the implementation of the Prüm system in the European Union, Brazil’s criminal rates and socio-economic inequalities have impacted so far on the lack of convergence and harmonisation among the Federal States.

 

Furthermore, it was discussed how a number of legal and bioethical concerns surrounding the collection, storage and use of genetic data still exist, adding to some degree of public misinformation in Brazil about the potential uses of forensic DNA data.

2016/06/22

Clash of the genomes: Populations as brands in personalised medicine research

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2016/06/22

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Clash of the genomes: Populations as brands in personalised medicine research

Centre for Social Studies| Coimbra, Portugal | 22 June 2016

Guest Speaker: Aaro M. Tupasela (University of Copenhagen)

The seminar presentation drew attention to 1) how various actors are seeking to lay claim over genetic resources through the generation of different forms of authenticity and origin; 2) how populations are increasingly becoming forms of brands, since particular characteristics are associated with them for the purposes of classification and differentiation; 3) how different countries exercise policies of inclusion (and exclusion) in an attempt to define group identity.

 

The discussion focused on similarities and differences between biobanks and forensic DNA databases. In particular, it reflected on 1) different notions of the state as a guardian of genomic information, and the challenges of transnational data exchange in this context; 2) how national identity is configured and plays out in databanks; and 3) how the purpose of managing populations drives genomic search for diseases or the “grouping” of genetic clusters associated with propensity to violence.

2016/05/03

EXCHANGE 2016 annual conference: Current and future challenges of forensic genetics in society

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2016/05/03

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EXCHANGE 2016 annual conference: Current and future challenges of forensic genetics in society

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 3 May 2016

 

The first annual conference of the EXCHANGE project gathered internationally renowned speakers from the forensic and the social sciences to participate in an interdisciplinary dialogue on the uses of DNA technologies for forensic purposes.

 

The one-day event was joined by experts, students and practitioners from different areas – criminal investigation, law and justice, sociology, legal medicine – and provided a unique opportunity for all attendants to approach the many ethical, legal, technical and societal implications nourishing the current debate, with an emphasis on empirical cases.

 

Presentations covered such diverse topics related with forensic science as: race, operational and policy issues, ethical and regulatory aspects of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and interpretation of DNA evidence. Other presentations dealt with the methodological and practical aspects of forensic technologies, laboratory work and database management, with a specific focus on the Dutch and Portuguese DNA databases.

2016/05/02

EXCHANGE Scientific Advisory Council meeting

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2016/05/02

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EXCHANGE Scientific Advisory Council meeting

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 2 May 2016

 

The first meeting of the EXCHANGE Scientific Advisory Committee provided a comprehensive overview of the project’s aims, challenges, research perspectives and expected impact, and engaged the Team and Committee members in a constructive debate on the possible research developments and difficulties arising from the fieldwork.

 

The variety of expertise represented in the Committee allowed a thorough exploration of the project’s potentialities and aims through an interdisciplinary discussion of the research topics and design. Interdisciplinarity itself is one of EXCHANGE’s main objectives, and a necessary approach to pursue a responsive and responsible science, which goes beyond common binary juxtapositions between collective benefits and individual risks, security and privacy. Such goal will only be accomplished if a fruitful dialogue between forensic and social sciences is established.

 

Theoretical as well as empirical and methodological questions were addressed by researchers’ presentations with reference to EXCHANGE’s main goal of rethinking social control, citizenship and democracy through the study of forensic geneticists’ attitudes and positioning within the Prüm scenario. An overview of the conducted fieldwork was also given, and possible outcome and impacts of the research were discussed, with particular reference to the geopolitics of the Prüm system and familial searching.

2016/02/15

Writing up fieldwork: Writing creatively in an academic context

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2016/02/15

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Writing up fieldwork: Writing creatively in an academic context

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 15-19 February 2016

Guest Speaker: Amal Chatterjee

The EXCHANGE project aims to engage with innovative modes of communicating research findings. In order to promote this, the EXCHANGE team organised a one-week course, held by Amal Chatterjee, writer, editor and lecturer of fiction at the University of Oxford. The course encouraged researchers to explore creative writing tools vis-à-vis traditional forms of academic writing. Participants were confronted with alternative possibilities to write to academic audiences through unconventional approaches that allow to ‘follow’ forensic DNA in its travelling.

2016/01/28

Semiotics and visual culture

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2016/01/28

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Semiotics and visual culture

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 28 January 2016

Guest Speaker: Moisés Martins (Centre for the Study of Communication and Society, University of Minho)

EXCHANGE investigates the meanings attributed to DNA technologies and the processes through which such meanings are created and consolidated in the forensic genetics field. To further develop knowledge and skills on semiotics, a seminar was organised with invited speaker Moisés Martins, professor of Sociology of Communication and Culture and of Social Semiotics. The seminar introduced the participants to the principles of semantic systems, semiotics, technologic production and sensorial memory. A practical exercise that exemplifies the processes of construction of meaning through signs was developed.

2016/01/14

Workshop: Creative writing for academics

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2016/01/14

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Workshop: Creative writing for academics

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 14 January 2016

Guest Speaker: Alison Neilson (Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra)

One of the challenges related with academic research lies in the capacity to report research results in a way which is capable of communicating them across different disciplines and publics, and to provoke innovative thinking about existing assumptions. EXCHANGE wishes to explore writing processes that allow to respond to these challenges. This seminar by CES researcher Alison Neilson was organised to stimulate alternative forms of academic writing, with a focus on artistic and creative inspiration. The dangers, the conditions, the processes, and the reasons and places for this kind of writing were assessed during the workshop. The team was also invited to participate in a meditative creative exercise that fostered the exploration of emotions in academic research and the articulation of personal and professional trajectories.

2015/12/09

Sharing experiences of ethnographic fieldwork

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2015/12/09

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Sharing experiences of ethnographic fieldwork

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 9 December 2015

Guest Speaker: Susana Silva (Public Health Institute, University of Porto)

A central position in EXCHANGE’s methodological toolkit is occupied by ethnographic observation, which implies a series of practical and ethical challenges. In order to promote discussion of these issues, invited speaker Susana Silva shared her experience of team work in the context of ethnographic field observation at the Department of Health and Society – Social Epidemiology of the University of Porto. Among the topics discussed in the seminar were issues of team organization and working methods, qualitative methods in public health research, challenges of participant observation, issues of protocol and approaches to sensitive research topics.

2015/11/02

Basic DNA course

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2015/11/02

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Basic DNA course

Centre for Social Studies | Coimbra, Portugal | 2-5 November 2015

Guest Speaker: Kees van der Beek (Netherlands Forensic Institute)

EXCHANGE aims at bridging between different disciplines by creating opportunities for discussion and mutual learning. As a starting point of this fruitful dialogue, Kees van der Beek, custodian of the Dutch DNA database and member of the EXCHANGE Scientific Advisory Committee, was invited to hold a course on “Basic DNA”. The course was jointly attended by the EXCHANGE researchers and six forensic scientists from the Portuguese Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences (INMLCF). Among the covered topics related to DNA data management in forensic science, such issues as databasing, familial searching, determination of externally visible traits, dealing with false-positive matches, and frontier DNA technologies were addressed. Following the course, participants were given a guided visit to the laboratories of the Department of Forensic Genetics and Biology and to the facilities of the Portuguese DNA database.

outreach

2017/03/19

Transnational exchange of genetic information in the EU: Ethical and social challenges

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2017/03/19

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Transnational exchange of genetic information in the EU: Ethical and social challenges

QUALIFICA | EXPONOR, Porto, Portugal | 19 March 2017

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The Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), in collaboration with POCH (Operational Programme Human Capital), invited the EXCHANGE project to make a presentation at QUALIFICA, an annual career fair that takes place at EXPONOR, Porto.

 

This year’s priority was to invite top researchers who have received a European Research Council (ERC) grant. With a target audience mainly composed by secondary school students Exchange was represented by four team members who were available to provide information about the main objectives of the project and to engage in discussions with students about the challenges associated with forensic DNA data exchange among EU Member States.

2017/02/10

Communication between forensic experts and the criminal justice system

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2017/02/10

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Communication between forensic experts and the criminal justice system

Master Course in Forensic Genetics | Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal | 10 February 2017

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Forensic experts deal with constant challenges when communicating the results of their analyses to the courts. Criminal justice systems are often pervaded by exaggerated expectations towards forensic evidence. At the same time, forensic genetics is presently engaged in responding to its responsibility to be accountable and accessible to citizens, and to publicly debate its limitations and consequences.

 

Helena Machado focused on the case of communicating DNA evidence in criminal cases, and highlighted the need for more training, education and meaningful interdisciplinarity. The seminar was followed by a debate involving a mixed audience of scientists of the life sciences, police officers, laboratory technicians, criminologists, social scientists, and students from diverse academic disciplines.

2017/01/27

Transnational CSI? Modes of construction of cross-border criminality // Harmonisation and divergences in police and judiciary cooperation in the EU

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2017/01/27

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Transnational CSI? Modes of construction of cross-border criminality // Harmonisation and divergences in police and judiciary cooperation in the EU

II Meeting of the section “Sociology of Law and Justice” of the Portuguese Sociology Association | University of Minho, Braga, Portugal | 27-28 January 2017

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The researchers Marta Martins and Sara Matos participated in the event co-organised by the Interdisciplinary Centre of Social Sciences (CICS.NOVA-UMinho) and by the Law and Psychology Schools of the University of Minho. In the session “Emerging issues, recent developments and challenges” Marta talked about the theme “transnational CSI”, which analysed media representations of cross-border crime. Her paper, co-authored with Rafaela Granja and Helena Machado, discussed the moral and geopolitical meanings underlying the category of “transnational suspects” in the context of the exchange of genetic information in the European Union (EU). Sara’s presentation, co-authored with Filipe Santos and Helena Machado, explored the harmonisation processes and the existing divergences in police and judicial cooperation in the EU. She focused on the tensions between standardisation of practices and differentiations and asymmetries between countries. Differences are not neutral, and can be framed in a perspective that considers the possible impacts of the circulation of personal data on citizenship rights.

2016/11/14

Transnational ‘Truth machine’? Challenges of forensic DNA databases

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2016/11/14

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Transnational ‘Truth machine’? Challenges of forensic DNA databases

EGENIS Seminar Series Transnational ‘Truth machine’? Challenges of forensic DNA databases | University of Exeter, UK | 14 November | 2016

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Helena Machado participated in the “Egenis, the Centre for the Study of Life Sciences” Seminar series with the talk “Transnational ‘Truth machine’? Challenges of forensic DNA databases“.

 

In the “genetic age” of criminal investigation, the expansion of large computerised forensic DNA databases and the massive exchange of DNA data at a transnational level have been portrayed as being significantly important resources for fighting crime. The ethical implications of DNA data exchange between different jurisdictions are paramount.  On the basis of interviews conducted with forensic practitioners who are national contact points for the so-called Prum regime, this seminar explored the following questions: What do they consider as ethically important in the context of the transnational exchange of DNA data in the EU for the purpose of combating cross-border crime, terrorism and illegal migration? How are ethical controversies addressed and managed? Which new forms of interaction are being constructed and assembled in relation to ethics?

2016/10/27

Transnational criminal suspects in the European Union: Challenges to citizenship

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2016/10/27

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Transnational criminal suspects in the European Union: Challenges to citizenship

Webinar | Workgroup of Young Researchers in Communication Sciences | 27 October 2016

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Helena Machado participated as invited speaker in the webinar organised by the “Workgroup of Young Researchers in Communication Sciences” with a talk that discussed the articulation how the transnational exchange of DNA data in the EU combines technological surveillance with a “globalized CSI effect”. This presentation has also reflected on emerging categories of suspicion that appear entangled with geopolitics. In this process, we witness a growing criminalisation of East European individuals and groups. Dominant conceptions of risk and public safety accentuate the vulnerability of the social groups most affected by economic and political inequalities.

2016/09/24

'All in the family': Biogenetic perspectives on family and crime // Fighting cross-border crime and terrorism in the EU: Criminological challenges of transnational exchange of DNA data

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2016/09/24

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'All in the family': Biogenetic perspectives on family and crime // Fighting cross-border crime and terrorism in the EU: Criminological challenges of transnational exchange of DNA data

EuroCrim 2016 – 16th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology: Crime and Control. Structures, Developments and Actors. | Münster, Germany | 21 – 24 September 2016

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Rafaela Granja and Filipe Santos participated in the 16th Annual Conference of the European Society of Criminology. The motto of the conference was “Crime and Control. Structures, Developments and Actors”. The participation in this event allowed the examination, from a criminological standpoint, of the several actors involved in the (re)production of social control.

 

In a paper co-authored with Helena Machado, Catarina Samorinha, and Susana Silva, Rafaela Granja participated in the session “Biological, Biosocial and Psychological Perspectives”. The paper explored the current configurations of the understandings about criminality, family and biological inheritance, and discussed the ethical and societal challenges associated with the re-emergent trend of “biology of culpability”. The reflection was based on two cases: emerging theories within the bio-psychological field about criminal behaviour and the criminal investigative technique of familial searching.

 

Filipe Santos and Helena Machado were co-authors of the paper “Fighting cross-border crime and terrorism in the EU: Criminological challenges of transnational exchange of DNA data”, presented in the session “Fighting Transnational Crime I”. This presentation provided an overview of the 5 years of available data regarding the implementation and operation of the Prüm DNA exchange system, highlighting the main trends in terms of total volume of matches and the differentiated progress of Prüm implementation, as well as the criminological challenges raised by the asymmetrical patterns of criminal mobility in the EU.

2016/09/10

'It is out of our hands'. Performing ethics in transnational exchange of forensic DNA data

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2016/09/10

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'It is out of our hands'. Performing ethics in transnational exchange of forensic DNA data

Doing the individual and the collective in forensic genetics: Governance, race and restitution | Chancellors Conference Centre, Manchester, UK | 8-10 September 2016

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Helena Machado participated as invited speaker in the workshop entitled “Doing the individual and the collective in forensic genetics: Governance, race and restitution”, 8-10 September, Chancellors Conference Centre, Manchester. Experts in social studies of forensics debated empirical cases of different countries in Europe, Latin America, and the USA. Two main clusters of the application of forensic genetic methods and techniques were explored: 1) Governance, policing, control, regulation, surveillance, and discrimination; 2) Restitution, reconciliation, care, and the search for justice, citizen and human rights.

 

Helena presented the paper “’It is out of our hands’. Performing ethics in transnational exchange of forensic DNA data”. This work challenged the conventional approach to bioethics by proposing to approach ethics as boundary work and part of a standardised package of forensic epistemic cultures that constructs the symbolic credence in the field’s humanistic benefit for society.

2016/09/03

Travels and troubles of forensic genetic surveillance in the EU // Biosocial futures of the family in forensic DNA databases // Materializing the (criminal) body: Science and culture in forensic genetics

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2016/09/03

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Travels and troubles of forensic genetic surveillance in the EU // Biosocial futures of the family in forensic DNA databases // Materializing the (criminal) body: Science and culture in forensic genetics

4S/EASST Conference 2016: Science and Technology by Other Means – Exploring collectives, spaces and futures | CCIB, Barcelona, Spain | 31 August – 3 September 2016

 

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Rafaela Granja, Helena Machado and Filipe Santos participated in the joint 4S and EASST 2016 conference. The motto of the conference was “Science & technology by other means: Exploring collectives, spaces and futures”. The participation in this event was an occasion to explore, following an STS approach, the articulation of collectives and social order embedded in the production of knowledge and technologies in the forensic genetics.

 

Together with Amade M’charek (University of Amsterdam), Helena organized the track “Technologies of criminalization: On the convergence of forensic and surveillance technologies”. The overarching theme of this track focused on instances and modes of convergence between technologies and tactics aimed at solving crime (forensics), and technologies of control and oversight of populations (surveillance).

 

Within this track, Helena discussed the ethical challenges of “false positives” in the transnational exchange of forensic DNA data in the EU. She addressed ethics in forensic genetic surveillance as boundary work involving collectives of scientific and non-scientific actors who negotiate the meaning, relevance and reliability of a DNA match.

 

Rafaela’s presentation explored the biosocial meanings and implications of familial searching in forensic DNA databases. In particular she discussed the kind of bodies constructed by this investigative technique, the family meanings emerging in the process, and the connections constructed between individuals with genetic shared traits.

 

Filipe participated in the track “Body, Science and Expertise” with a presentation that focused the entanglements of the body, technoscience, culture, and forensic expertise, emerging from the use of mixed DNA samples to materialize (criminal) bodies.

2016/07/14

Geopolitics and ethical challenges of DNA data exchange in the EU

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2016/07/14

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Geopolitics and ethical challenges of DNA data exchange in the EU

ESRC Research ‘Seminar series on genetics, technology, security and justice. Crossing, contesting and comparing boundaries’ | Newcastle upon Tyne, UK | 14 July 2016

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Helena Machado participated as invited speaker in the ESRC ‘Seminar series on genetics, technology, security and justice. Crossing, contesting and comparing boundaries’ in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. She spoke to an interdisciplinary audience of social and forensic scientists about the entanglements of ethics and geopolitics in the context of DNA data exchange in the EU. Helena contended that ethics is much more than formal regimes of data protection. Some particular challenges emerge from the enormous disparities existing in national legislations and data protection, regimes of responsibility and custody of the databases, and lack of oversight of these transnational flows of law enforcement information. In addition, considerable cross-country variations exist in the general level of public trust, and in mechanisms of transparency and accountability. The presentation also proposed an approach to ethics as socially embedded in processes that activate the sociality of science and legitimate the scientific work. In this approach, ethics can be addressed as an ontological uncertainty to be explored though the notions of controversy, virtuality and potentiality.

2016/07/06

Risk, security and criminality: The 'transnational' suspect // Criminality and geopolitics of science and technology in the EU

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2016/07/06

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Risk, security and criminality: The 'transnational' suspect // Criminality and geopolitics of science and technology in the EU

IX Congress of the Portuguese Sociological Association | University of Algarve – Faro, Portugal | 6-8 July 2016

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Researchers Marta Martins and Sara Matos participated in the biggest event of the sociological community in Portugal, organized every four years by the Portuguese Sociological Association. DNA technologies might reproduce “old” forms of discrimination by mostly affecting social groups that are already exposed to social and political inequalities. Within the session “Security of the population, public policy and citizenship”, Marta talked about risk, safety and crime, by analysing the processes and meanings underlying the construction of the concept of ‘transnational suspect’. Her paper also discussed how DNA technologies might reproduce “old” forms of discrimination by affecting social groups that are already exposed to social and political inequalities. Sara joined the session “Technologies and safety” with a communication about criminality and geopolitics of science and technology in the European Union. The focus of the paper was on how “global and common” concerns within the EU have stretched cross-border flows that reflect different ways of incorporating science and technology in national practices and structures – in this case, the DNA databases for criminal investigation purposes.

 

The conference was also an opportunity for the team to present in a collective poster the ultimate goals and expected outcomes of the EXCHANGE project.

2016/06/23

Ethical and social challenges of transnational exchange of DNA data in the EU

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2016/06/23

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Ethical and social challenges of transnational exchange of DNA data in the EU

EUROFORGEN International Dissemination Conference: “Forensic DNA analysis in the light of the new security needs” | Venice, Italy | 23 June 2016

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The social and ethical implications of the transnational exchange of forensic DNA data for the purposes of combating criminality are paramount. Some particular challenges emerge from the enormous disparities existing in national legislation and data protection, regimes of responsibility and custody of the database, and lack of oversight of these transnational flows of law enforcement information.

 

As invited speaker in the Dissemination Conference of the European Forensic Genetics Network of Excellence, Helena Machado explored some features of “ethical awareness” displayed by forensic practitioners acting as National Contact Points (NCPs) for DNA data exchange in the Prüm system. Prüm NCPs frame ethics through imageries of “the public” that are entangled with (in)formal regimes of normativity that separate science from the social and the political realm. Uncertainty is closed down by forensic professionals’ actual or assumed position in relation to the endeavour of reinforcing responsible governance of information, trust, transparency and public accountability.

2016/06/20

Separating the wheat from the chaff? Publics affected from European crime and border control technologies

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2016/06/20

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Separating the wheat from the chaff? Publics affected from European crime and border control technologies

SSTNET Workshop: “The sociological gaze on science and society relations” | Lisbon, Portugal | 20 June 2016

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Nina Amelung participated in the workshop “The sociological gaze on science and society relations” organized by the Research Network 24 – Sociology of Science and Technology Network (SSTNET) of the European Sociological Association (ESA) and the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal. Nina’s presentation aimed at examining the crafting of publics and forms of public participation in transnational biometric border and crime control technologies. She talked to an audience interested in approaches to the public understanding of or engagement with science and technology and addressed the question: How do biometric border and control technologies shape notions of European publics and public participation? For the purpose of illustration, she used two examples of transnational cooperation regimes for fighting crime and control of “illegal migration”, which both use biometric data such as DNA profiles and fingerprints: Prüm in the area of criminal investigation and EURODAC in the area of asylum management. Finally, she discussed specific dynamics and politics of silencing and (un)doing publics and public participation in biometric border and crime control technologies.

2015/12/17

Genomics, neurosciences and data sharing. Sociological and ethical challenges

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2015/12/17

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Genomics, neurosciences and data sharing. Sociological and ethical challenges

XIII Annual Meeting of the Centre for Neuroscience and Cell Biology | Coimbra, Portugal | 17 December 2015

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As invited speaker in a special session of the CNC Annual Meeting, Principal Investigator Helena Machado introduced prospective developments and concerns related with the use of genomics, neurosciences and big data technologies in the field of Law and Justice. The presentation explored the disciplinary and ethical boundaries traced by forensic uses of medical biobanks, forensic DNA phenotyping, and neuroscience in the criminal justice system. Furthermore, it analysed the social and political consequences of mandatory data sharing and open access at the EU level.

Crime, genetics and criminal investigation

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Crime, genetics and criminal investigation

CES goes to school

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Aiming at opening the debate on the social studies of forensic genetics beyond the ‘specialist’ public, EXCHANGE researchers joined the initiative “CES goes to school”. Supported by the Centre for Social Studies, this initiative promotes the diffusion of knowledge in the areas of Social and Human Sciences by sharing the research developed at CES and promoting debates. The “crime, genetics and criminal investigation” presentations organized by the EXCHANGE team were held in various secondary schools of Northern and central Portugal and aimed to engage students with the issues associated to the social studies of forensic genetics. Researchers invited students to approach and debate the construction of forensic narratives, the uses of forensic DNA technologies, the social implications of DNA databases, and the challenges associated with DNA data exchange among EU Member States.