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FOLK – From racial types to DNA sequences

Ancestry, ethnicity, race, and DNA 1990-2015

Workshop 2
September 3–5, 2015

Image above: Already in 1993, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research at sponsored a conference to discuss the controversial theoretical, methodological and ethical implications of the Human Genome Diversity Project. (Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Inc.)

The technological revolution in genetic research during the last couple of decades has led to a boom in research on human genetic variation, including research on the genetic makeup, ancestry, and prehistory of ethnically, linguistically, or geographically defined human populations. As a result, historians and philosophers of science, social scientists, biological anthropologists, and geneticists have once again engaged into discussions about the reality, reemergence, or even the non-disappearance of race. This workshop turns the attention towards the notions of 'ethnicity', 'race', and ‘ancestry’ associated with the production of knowledge about human genetic variation, and will engage with questions such as:

How are these concepts defined and used within diverse research areas such as human evolution, population movements and prehistory, biomedicine, and forensics.

To what extent do they reflect social, cultural, or political ideas about ancestry, ethnicity, race and nationhood

What are the social, cultural and/or political implications of their use?

Participants and paper titles (by invitation only):

  • Commentator: Alan Goodman

  • Yulia Egorova
    "Genomic sovereignty and genetic research on Jewish populations"

  • Hallvard Fossheim
    "Past responsibility? Research, ethnicity, and the ethical relevance of history"

  • Joan Fujimura
    "Big Biology, infrastructures, and race: How genomics is being used to misrepresent race"

  • Erika Hagelberg
    "The biological origins of the Rapanui: past and present research" ​

  • Jon Røyne Kyllingstad
    "Ethnicity and genes in North-Scandinavian prehistory"

  • Åsa Larsson
    "Return of the ancestors. Ancient DNA, archaeology and the public"

  • Ageliki Lefkaditou
    "One to fit them all: biological reconstructions of a Greek past"

  • Jonathan Marks
    "Race, botanical metaphors, and the bio-politics of human ancestry"​

  • Amade M’Charek
    "Doing Time: DNA and the dis/continuous city"

  • Catherine Nash
    "From race to genography: geographical perspectives on accounts of genetic distance and difference"

  • Ramya Rajagopalan
    "Variations on a chip: SNPs and the making of populations in human genetic variation studies"

  • Marianne Sommer
    "What's in a tree? On the geneticization of an icon"