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Genetic Nature/Culture

Genetic Nature/Culture: Anthropology and Science beyond the Two-Culture Divide

Alan H. Goodman
Deborah Heath
M. Susan Lindee
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Genetic Nature/Culture
    Book Description:

    The so-called science wars pit science against culture, and nowhere is the struggle more contentious-or more fraught with paradox-than in the burgeoning realm of genetics. A constructive response, and a welcome intervention, this volume brings together biological and cultural anthropologists to conduct an interdisciplinary dialogue that provokes and instructs even as it bridges the science/culture divide. Individual essays address issues raised by the science, politics, and history of race, evolution, and identity; genetically modified organisms and genetic diseases; gene work and ethics; and the boundary between humans and animals. The result is an entree to the complicated nexus of questions prompted by the power and importance of genetics and genetic thinking, and the dynamic connections linking culture, biology, nature, and technoscience. The volume offers critical perspectives on science and culture, with contributions that span disciplinary divisions and arguments grounded in both biological perspectives and cultural analysis. An invaluable resource and a provocative introduction to new research and thinking on the uses and study of genetics,Genetic Nature/Cultureis a model of fruitful dialogue, presenting the quandaries faced by scholars on both sides of the two-cultures debate.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92997-5
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Sydel Silverman

    In the last decade of the twentieth century, anthropology, like many other disciplines, was deeply affected by the revolution in genetic science. Both as a set of methodological tools and as an object of study in its own right, genetics assumed an increasingly important place in anthropological research and practice, presenting new opportunities and new challenges. At the same time, public discourse around genetics intensified, touching on long-held concerns of anthropologists; yet the anthropological voice was not often heard, even when it was sorely needed. This confluence of developments led to the idea for a conference on anthropology and the...

    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Introduction. Anthropology in an Age of Genetics: Practice, Discourse, and Critique
    (pp. 1-20)
    M. Susan Lindee, Alan Goodman and Deborah Heath

    On June 26, 2000, the rival scientific factions vying to complete the DNA sequencing of the human genome declared a truce. The race that might have been won by a single victor was set aside, and credit for completing a working draft of the sequence was to be shared by the Human Genome Project’s international, publicly funded consortium and by Celera Genomics, a private company. At the press conference where this laying down of arms was announced, President Bill Clinton stood flanked by Craig Venter, the head of Celera, and Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health’s Human...


    • Section A. Human Populations/Genetic Resources

      • Chapter 1 Indigenous Peoples, Changing Social and Political Landscapes, and Human Genetics in Amazonia
        (pp. 23-40)
        Ricardo Ventura Santos

        In his memoirs, the North American geneticist James V. Neel described a particular evening in July 1962, when he was carrying out field research among the Xavànte Indians in central Brazil:

        Beneath a fantastic canopy of stars . . . I listened uncomprehendingly, as the mature males, gathered in a group, discussed . . . the day’s events, and planned for the next day. In the background, the young males began to discharge their nightly function of chanting before each house. Suddenly the thought came to me that I was witness to a scene which, in one variation or another,...

      • Chapter 2 Provenance and the Pedigree: Victor McKusick’s Fieldwork with the Old Order Amish
        (pp. 41-57)
        M. Susan Lindee

        Provenance is defined in theOxford English Dictionaryas the record of the “ultimate derivation and passage of an item through its various owners.” The term is most commonly used to describe the history or pedigree of a painting—who has owned it, its value at various stages—but it also has a meaning in silviculture, in which it refers explicitly to genetic stock. Provenance, for forestry professionals, is the record of where a seed was taken and of the character of the “mother trees.” In this essay I explore provenance in both senses, as a textual record of the...

      • Chapter 3 Flexible Eugenics: Technologies of the Self in the Age of Genetics
        (pp. 58-76)
        Karen-Sue Taussig, Rayna Rapp and Deborah Heath

        In 1994, John Wasmuth and his laboratory colleagues published an account of the discovery of FGFR3, the gene for achondroplasia—the most common form of heritable dwarfism—in the journalCell(Shiang et al. 1994). Hailed soon after in theScientistas the article most frequently cited during 1995, Wasmuth’s publication revealed that 98 percent of those affected with achondroplasia have an identical mutation in the molecule FGFR3, a receptor for what is called a growth factor.¹ Among other things, the discovery opened the possibility for prenatal screening for this condition. During the many years of work that led to...

      • Chapter 4 The Commodification of Virtual Reality: The Icelandic Health Sector Database
        (pp. 77-92)
        Hilary Rose

        When newspapers around the world reported, “Iceland sells its people’s genome,” it read to many, not least Icelanders themselves, as if Brave New World had finally arrived. It is now clear that the remarkable events on this small Nordic island must be understood as part of a much wider shift. As the big pharmaceutical companies, venture capital, and the state gravitate toward predictive medicine and pharmacogenomics, Iceland may be the first example of pharmacogenomics in action, but unquestionably it is not going to be the last.

        There is a distinct irony to recent developments in pharmacogenomics: This potentially immense innovation,...

    • Section B. Animal Species/Genetic Resources

      • Chapter 5 Kinship, Genes, and Cloning: Life after Dolly
        (pp. 95-110)
        Sarah Franklin

        The birth of Dolly, the famous cloned Scottish sheep, was first reported on February 23, 1997, in the British SundayObserverby its science editor, Robin McKie. Later that week, the means of her creation were officially documented in the British science journalNature, in an article by Ian Wilmut and his colleagues titled “Viable Offspring Derived from Fetal and Adult Mammalian Cells.”¹ As with another famous British birth—of the world’s first testtube baby, Louise Brown, in June 1978—Dolly’s viability instantly became the subject of worldwide media attention and public debate. Her birth was seen to alter the...

      • Chapter 6 For the Love of a Good Dog: Webs of Action in the World of Dog Genetics
        (pp. 111-131)
        Donna Haraway

        Born in 1944, I grew up in Denver in the 1950s. McCarthyism passed me by, but the new leash law really got my attention. While my adult peers were once red-diaper babies radicalized by blacklists, my earliest political passions were of a lower order on the great chain of chromatic consciousness. When I had to fence my “intact” male Dalmatian-cross mutt—despite getting every adult I knew to promise to vote against the leash law—my political soul came of age. The adults lied, the law passed, the dog was restricted, and my notions of nature and culture got their...

      • Chapter 7 98% Chimpanzee and 35% Daffodil: The Human Genome in Evolutionary and Cultural Context
        (pp. 132-152)
        Jonathan Marks

        One of the most overexposed factoids in modern science is our genetic similarity to the African apes, the chimpanzees and gorillas. It bears the precision of modern technology; it carries the air of philosophical relevance. It reinforces the cultural knowledge that genetics reveals deep truths about the human condition, that we are but a half step from the beasts in our nature.

        But how do we know just how genetically similar we are to them? What is that estimate based on? What real significance does it have for our conceptions of ourselves in the modern world and for the role...


    • Section A. Political and Cultural Identity

      • Chapter 8 From Pure Genes to GMOs: Transnationalized Gene Landscapes in the Biodiversity and Transgenic Food Networks
        (pp. 155-175)
        Chaia Heller and Arturo Escobar

        In recent years, a diverse international movement against biotechnology has emerged to contest the encroachment of global capital into agriculture and other bioscience arenas. Participants in the anti–World Trade Organization (WTO) demonstrations in Seattle during November 1999 included peasant farmers and representatives of indigenous groups from Europe and India, and consumer and ecology groups from around the world. Drawing linkages between food, land, bodily sovereignty, cultural autonomy, and identity in an age of globalization, these groups have protested the biological and cultural homogenization associated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the fast-food culture of McDonald’s. Participation by the French...

      • Chapter 9 Future Imaginaries: Genome Scientists as Sociocultural Entrepreneurs
        (pp. 176-199)
        Joan H. Fujimura

        Imagination is a social practice deployed in the production of science and technology. Creating future imaginaries is a major part of scientists’ work in the new biotechnologies that I study: genetics, artificial intelligence, and robotics research. Since these sciences are literally producing the future, I examine the social practices of imagining that form part of their work. I treat both imagining and laboratory experimentation as practices in which scientists are regularly engaged.

        Science and technology have come to play increasingly important roles in defining the daily lives and bodies of people across the globe and defining the cultures and societies...

      • Chapter 10 Reflections and Prospects for Anthropological Genetics in South Africa
        (pp. 200-216)
        Himla Soodyall

        On June 16, 1999, day six of the Wenner-Gren International Symposium that led to this volume, a significant event was taking place in my home country: the inauguration of President Thabo Mbeki—the second president elected in democratic South Africa. Although I was not at home to be part of the celebration, I watched some of the proceedings on television. Several issues that President Mbeki raised in his inauguration speech delivered at Pretoria, South Africa, struck me as crucial to both the discussions at our symposium and the challenges facing academics in the “new” South Africa:

        We will also work...

    • Section B. Race and Human Variation

      • Chapter 11 The Genetics of African Americans: Implications for Disease Gene Mapping and Identity
        (pp. 219-233)
        Rick Kittles and Charmaine Royal

        Although the history of Africans in the Americas predates institutional slavery, it is marked by the brutal period of kidnapping and mass transport of millions of indigenous Africans during the transatlantic slave trade from approximately 1619 to 1850. Thus, the vast majority of contemporary African Americans are descendants of enslaved Africans. Human identity is usually defined in relation to familial, cultural, and genetic ancestry. However, because enslavement has obliterated this history for the vast majority of African Americans it is even more critical to find other ways to trace and understand their ancestry.

        Shipping and trade documents provide some insight...

      • Chapter 12 Human Races in the Context of Recent Human Evolution: A Molecular Genetic Perspective
        (pp. 234-257)
        Alan R. Templeton

        This chapter examines the significance of human “racial” diversity, using the same types of genetic diversity measurements, criteria, and analytical procedures applied to other life on this planet. This is not to say that humans are not a unique species—we certainly are—but it does acknowledge the fact that our genetic diversity is subject to the same evolutionary forces that shape diversity in all life. Moreover, modern molecular genetics provides comparable means of screening for genetic variation in virtually all living species. Consequently, the amount, pattern, and significance of genetic diversity within any species can now be evaluated with...

      • Chapter 13 Buried Alive: The Concept of Race in Science
        (pp. 258-277)
        Troy Duster

        A consortium of leading scientists across the disciplines from biology to physical anthropology issued a “Revised UNESCO Statement on Race” in 1995—a definitive declaration that summarizes eleven central issues and concludes that, in terms of scientific discourse, the concept of race has no scientific utility: “The same scientific groups that developed the biological concept over the last century have now concluded that its use for characterizing human populations is so flawed that it is no longer a scientifically valid concept. In fact, the statement makes clear that the biological concept of race as applied to humans has no legitimate...

      • Chapter 14 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Promise and Problems of Ancient DNA for Anthropology
        (pp. 278-296)
        Frederika A. Kaestle

        Recent technological advances, including the development of the automated polymerase chain reaction (PCR), improved DNA detection systems, and new DNA extraction protocols, many of them developed for forensic applications, now allow us to recover genetic information from ancient individuals and groups (see Herrmann and Hummel 1993). This permits researchers to apply to ancient samples many of the techniques and analyses previously available only for modern samples. Hypotheses regarding the genetics of these ancient peoples can be explored directly, rather than through the indirect methods of archaeology, linguistics, and similar disciplines. Aided by these tools, we can use ancient DNA (aDNA)...

    (pp. 297-298)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 299-311)