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The GGIP Group is formed by concerned scholars and scientists situated in various fields (science and technology studies, anthropology, environmental science and policy, gender studies, genetics, sociology) interested in fostering analysis and discussion about the social, political repercussions of genomic research. The GGIP site seeks to assist indigenous peoples around the world by providing critical and independent commentary and relevant information on emerging forms of biotechnology affecting their cultural specificity and rights.

The latest issue of Current Anthropology features a suggestive article by Jenny Reardon and Kim TallBear that calls for a change in scientific education in order to enable different interactions between indigenous people and scientists. Abstract: During the nineteenth century, the American School of Anthropology enfolded Native peoples into their histories, claiming knowledge about and artifacts of these cultures as their rightful inheritance and property. Drawing both on the Genographic Project and the recent struggles between Arizona State University and the Havasupai Tribe over the use of Havasupai DNA, in this essay we describe how similar enfoldments continue today—despite most contemporary human scientists’ explicit rejection of hierarchical ideas of race. We seek to bring greater clarity and visibility to these constitutive links between whiteness, property, and the human sciences in order that the fields of biological anthropology and population genetics might work to move toward their stated commitments to antiracism (a goal, we argue, that the fields’ antiracialism impedes). Specifically, we reflect on how these links can inform extralegal strategies to address tensions between U.S. and other indigenous peoples and genome scientists and their facilitators (ethicists, lawyers, and policy makers). We conclude by suggesting changes to scientific education and professional standards that might improve relations between indigenous peoples and those who study them, and we introduce mechanisms for networking between indigenous peoples, scholars, and policy makers concerned with expanding indigenous governance of science and technology.

Download below to read the full article:

REARDON, Jenny and Kim TALLBEAR
(2012). “ ‘Your DNA is our history’ Genomics, Anthropology, and the Construction of Whiteness as Property”. Current Anthropology 53(Supplement 5): S233-S245.

Palgrave-MacMillan just released a new edited volume that reflects on the intersections of cultural and biological identity, health, and research agendas in South America, particularly focusing on Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay. The book, edited by Sahra Gibbon, Ricardo Ventura Santos and Mónica Sans, offers cross-cultural readings of the conceptual problems of population making in the areas of genetic ancestry and biomedicine, the political economy of health, the practice of bioethics, and the emergence of contested biological and cultural identities. The contributors in the volume represent different academic perspectives such as sociocultural and biological anthropology, science and technology studies, biology and human geneticists.

“This is an exceedingly original, interesting, and very important work for anthropology. Its major strength is its conceptual sophistication and the potential to make a substantial, groundbreaking contribution in anthropology, science studies, and global health. This is bio-cultural anthropology at its best.” Jonathan Marks, Department of Anthropology, UNC-Charlotte

Description: The purpose of this program is to promote an understanding of field-oriented environmental biology and how field research is conducted. The program helps to prepare Native American students for advanced studies in environmental biology, so they can better manage biological resources on their lands. Also, the program promotes understanding of Native American attitudes towards the environment in non-Native American students interested in the environment, so they can incorporate these cultural insights into better management. These goals are achieved through interactions with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal cultural preservation and natural resource departments, the Lac du Flambeau natural resource department, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and through dialogue and collaboration between students enrolled in the program. Qualifications: Native American descent; Minimum of Sophomore standing in an accredited college; Planning to obtain a 4-year degree in the environmental sciences; Admission based on past academic performance and statement of purpose. Where?: University of Notre Dame with Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Deadline: November 4, 2011. More information available at http://underc.nd.edu/

Duke University Press just published Sandra Harding’s new edited volume “The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Reader”. The selection of authors and topics makes possible a dialogue between feminist theory, postcolonial studies, and science and technology studies. From DUP website: “The contributors reevaluate conventional accounts of the West’s scientific and technological projects in the past and present, rethink the strengths and limitations of non-Western societies’ knowledge traditions, and assess the legacies of colonialism and imperialism. The collection concludes with forward-looking essays, which explore strategies for cultivating new visions of a multicultural, democratic world of sciences and for turning those visions into realities. Feminist science and technology concerns run throughout the reader and are the focus of several essays. Harding provides helpful background for each essay in her introductions to the reader’s four sections.”

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Dr. Deborah Bolnick (Department of Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin) is organizing a panel for the 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (AAPA) on the current state of ethic, legal and social implications of genetic research among indigenous people around the world. More information about the participants, topics, and venue will be posted soon. For more information please visit the AAPA webpage.

Anthropologist Carlos Andrés Barragán will present a talk on the governance of biological tissue coming from indigenous groups located in North-Western Amazonia. This presentation is part of the “Permanent Seminar” organized by the Social Studies of Science, Technology and Medicine Group (GESCTM, in Spanish), at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Abstract: Ethnographically, in this paper I follow the making, circulation, and consumption of “ethnic” cell lines coming from several indigenous societies in the Northwestern Amazon. Drawing on past and present local disputes between scientist and indigenous organizations’ leaders over the control of these tissues I dissect the contested articulations coming out of shifting disembodied identities and intellectual property law discourse. Beyond the enunciation of the encounter of different world-views (through the lenses of perspectivism and multinaturalism), I want to frame the exchanges between these actors as the assembling of third spaces, common worlds, where the acknowledgement of coproduction can be more consequential with the search of experimental justice and less hegemonic scientific practices.

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The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics features Kim TallBear’s piece on contemporary techno-scientific narratives of race and indigeneity. The author affirms that “In its quest to sample 100,000 “indigenous and traditional peoples,” the Genographic Project deploys five problematic narratives: (1) that “we are all African”; (2) that “genetic science can end racism”; (3) that “indigenous peoples are vanishing”; (4) that “we are all related”; and (5) that Genographic “collaborates” with indigenous peoples. In so doing, Genographic perpetuates much critiqued, yet longstanding notions of race and colonial scientific practice.”

Download below to read the full article:
TALLBEAR, Kim
(2007). “Narratives of race and indigeneity in the Genographic Project”. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 35(3): 412-424.

This celebration marks the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Population, Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, back in 1982. Note: the event was recorded by UN Television and can be viewed here.

Andrew Pollack, a New York Times journalist for “Business and science of biotechnology”, reports on proposed changes in the ruling of research with human subjects as an effort to protect them and facilitates new research.

 

[From the New York Times Website]

“The officials said the changes were needed to deal with a vastly altered research climate, whose new features include genomics studies using patients’ DNA samples, the use of the Internet and a growing reliance on studies that take place at many sites at once.

‘These are the first substantial changes that have been made to the rules governing human subjects in decades, so this is really quite a historic moment,’ Kathy Hudson, a deputy director of the National Institutes of Health, said in a telephone news conference on Friday.

The changes would be in the rules that cover topics like the informed consent that research participants must provide and the institutional review boards that oversee research at universities and hospitals. Initially drawn up by the Department of Health and Human Services in the 1970s and ’80s, the system was adopted by 14 other federal agencies and departments in 1991 and became known as the Common Rule.

But some experts said it had become too cumbersome.

‘It’s a terrible drag on getting good research done,’ said Dr. Robert J. Levine, a professor of medicine and a bioethicist at Yale who headed the university’s institutional review board for 31 years. He said Sunday that while he had not thoroughly reviewed the government’s lengthy proposal, he was encouraged by what he had seen.

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New Scientist (Issue 2817) features Linda Geddes’ article “Tribal wars: DNA testing divides American Indians”. Geddes reports on the membership disputes among the Chukchansi Tribe in Central California, USA. The Tribe Council will vote this month if new applicants must undergo a DNA test to prove they “really” are related to a member of the community. From the point of view of the tribal council this is an effort to block access to the benefits coming with the membership (e.g. the right to a share of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino’s profits) and grant access only to those qualified (“blood quantum”). Tribe members, would-be members, and external observers fear this consumption of genetic information may open the door for false disputes around ancestry; contribute to delegitimizing other cultural criteria for establishing membership; and possibly, to undermine tribal sovereignty.

Reference:

GEDDES, Linda
(2009). “Tribal wars. Genetic testing divides Native Americans”. New Scientist 210(2817): 8-10.The article can be accessed through the New Scientist webpage (through a subscription).

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