Over the past quarter-century, scientists have been mapping and exploring the human genome to locate the genetic basis of disease and track the histories of populations across time and space. As part of this work, geneticists have formulated markers to calculate percentages of European, African, and Amerindian genetic ancestry in populations presumed to originate or inhabit particular geographic regions. The work done by geneticists in recent years has been received with a mixture of excitement and concern. Genomics is simultaneously viewed as the key to diagnosing and curing inherited disease, while also posing a threat to individual privacy and raising concerns over the reappearance of racialized thinking in scientific research.
In Mestizo Genomics: Race Mixture, Nation, and Science in Latin America
(Duke University Press, 2014), editors Peter Wade
, Carlos Lopez Beltran
, Eduardo Restrepo
, and Ricardo Ventura Santos
ask how ideas of race, ethnicity, nation, and gender enter into the work of genetic scientists? Conducting ethnographic research in genetics laboratories located in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, the authors question the perceived divide between the scientific community and society at large in the production of knowledge. This important work illuminates how the concepts of race, nation, and gender are continually reproduced, challenged, and reformulated in both scientific and public discourse.
David-James Gonzales (DJ) is a Doctoral Candidate in History at the University of Southern California. He is a historian of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, Civil Rights, and Latino Identity & Politics. DJs dissertation examines the influence of Mexican American civic engagement and political activism on the metropolitan development of Orange County, CA from 1930 to 1965.