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Lisa Gannett, “Population Genetic Structure and Histories and Geographies of Race and Nation”
December 4 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Abstract: Genome-wide studies of human population structure find that patterns of genetic variation correlate with self-reported national, ethnic, and racial differences. As these studies proliferate, so too does the direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic ancestry tests, thereby fueling the public perception that truths about our origins, about who we really are, are inscribed in our DNA. However, an examination of the epistemic status of group categories in genomics shows that these categories are mired in historical and geographical constructions of race and nation and cannot provide the authoritatively scientific and empirically objective foundations sought for them. Critical attention might be turned instead to the various, and contestable, ways in which categories of nation, ethnicity, and race are being constructed and mobilized in the genealogical quest for origins.
Biography: Lisa Gannett is Professor of Philosophy at Saint Mary’s University Halifax. Her work is at the intersection of history and philosophy of biology philosophy of race and science and values. Her publications have focused on the epistemic status of group categories in genetics.