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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Time, race and nationalism in Mexican population genomics Seminar

5 March 2014
Lecture Theatre B Shackleton Building 44

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Nathaniel O'Grady at N.O' .

Event details

Geography and Environment seminar

Praxiographies of Mestizaje

Abstract: Temporality is essential to analyse the production of race, nation, and sameness/difference in human genomic practice. Academic literature, mostly centred in the US and EU, has paid special attention to the social constructedness, re-articulation, or coproduction of race and human genomics; however there is also a line of inquiry that has less interest in the reification of race, or the nature/culture divide, but which instead explores race and genomic science in its multiple enactments. My analysis of Mexican genomics builds on this multiple approach —and the already ambivalent notions of Mestizaje (cultural and racial hybridity) — to show how scientific practices both reinforce and challenge racial and national identities that coexist simultaneously, as well as their implications. I exemplify the negotiations of the various temporal, biogenetic and national registers that emerge from genomic research via three practice oriented (praxiographical) case studies; product of 2 years of participant observation at the Population Genomics Laboratory of the Mexican Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN). The first example explores the relations between the nationalistic rhetoric of Mestizaje, and the actual production of genomics inside the laboratory. The second example explores the construction of time in molecular-genomic anthropology, and its relations to different ways to know about the origins, spaces and processes of Mestizaje inside the Mexican territory. The last example, looks at the epidemiological future, and the relevance of ethnic and/or racial categories to understand populations’ dynamics and their role in genomic medicine. In sum, the analysis of the manifold relations between temporality and genomic practice sheds light into how neoliberal ideals, historical-racialised narratives and the materiality of DNA, as well as its contingent properties, shape the new genomics and its embedded politics.

Speaker information

Dr Ernesto Schwartz- Marin, Durham University. Department of Anthropology

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