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Sommer, Marianne (2010). DNA and cultures of remembrance: anthropological genetics, biohistories and biosocialities. BioSocieties, 5(3):366-390.

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Abstract

The article engages current human population genetic research or anthropological genetics with an emphasis on its popular forms. A general discussion of the production of biohistories on the basis of DNA analyses is elaborated by focusing on what I call the Genographic network: the Genographic Project and the associated genetic ancestry companies as well as book and film productions. In order to gain an understanding of the specificity of what is also referred to as genetic history, the development of notions such as a genetic heritage, the gene as historical document, and the DNA as archive of history are briefly treated, before approaching the recent commercializations and medializations of group-specific and personalized genetic history and identity. It is here that the challenge of joining history and DNA becomes most evident: on the one hand, the genetic knowledge is presented as particularly authentic and accurate on the basis of its epistemic objects and quantitative and technological approaches. On the other hand, in order for biohistorical identities and socialities to form, the knowledge needs to be rendered in a narrative, esthetically appealing way. This also points to differences vis-à-vis medical genomics in that neither anthropological genetics, nor the biosocialities it facilitates, are oriented towards hope for future health solutions. In offering supposedly purely anthropological knowledge about who we are and where we come from, anthropological genetics is part of backward-looking socialities. It is part of cultures of remembrance.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of History
DDC:900 History
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:18 Feb 2011 15:35
Last Modified:23 Nov 2012 12:42
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan
ISSN:1745-8552
Publisher DOI:10.1057/biosoc.2010.19
Official URL:http://www.palgrave-journals.com/biosoc/journal/v5/n3/index.html
Related URLs:http://opac.nebis.ch/F/?local_base=NEBIS&con_lng=GER&func=find-b&find_code=SYS&request=005915097 (Organisation)

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