News

The meeting will take place at the UN Headquarters, in New York City. The provisional agenda is as follows:

1. Election of officers.
2. Adoption of the agenda and organization of work.
3. Follow-up to the recommendations of the Permanent Forum:
(a) Economic and social development;
(b) Environment;
(c) Free, prior and informed consent.
4. Human rights:
(a) Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
(b) Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and other United Nations human rights mechanisms.
5. Half-day discussion on Central and South America and the Caribbean.
6. Comprehensive dialogue with United Nations agencies and funds.
7. Future work of the Permanent Forum, including issues of the Economic and Social Council and emerging issues.
8. Draft agenda for the eleventh session of the Permanent Forum.
9. Adoption of the report of the Permanent Forum on its tenth session.

 

For more information on registration and other aspects of the meeting please check the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues website.

 

Antonio Regalado, from Science magazine (AAAS) reports about how Q’eros indigenous group is blocking a DNA sampling plan by researchers working with National Geographic’s Genogrophic Project.

 

[From ScienceInsider Website]

“Complaints by indigenous leaders and local officials have blocked a plan by geneticists with the National Geographic Society to collect DNA from the remote Q’eros tribe in Peru as part of the Genographic Project, which seeks molecular clues to humankind’s migrations over the globe. Population geneticist Spencer Wells, head of the Genographic Project, along with other expedition members, had planned to collect DNA in the Q’eros communities tomorrow, 7 May, as part of the ongoing project to use DNA collected from hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

Now the expedition appears to have run afoul of local biodiversity campaigners. In a flurry of letters released this week, indigenous leaders charge that scientists working with National Geographic’s Genographic Project planned to collect DNA samples without following local regulations and obtaining proper consents. Officials met Wednesday in Cusco, Peru, to discuss the project and to grill a local guide and anthropologist hired by National Geographic.

In an e-mail to ScienceInsider, Wells said that his team had verbal permission from leaders of two Q’eros communities to visit, and that the complaints apparently originated with a third community. “We have cancelled our visit to the Q’eros until we find out exactly what happened,” he said.

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On May 4 “Asociación ANDES”, a Peruvian based organization that seeks to advance conservation and development through the implementation of bio-cultural territories, released a Communique saying that the Q’eros people in Cuzco, Peru reject a plan to collect DNA samples by researchers associated with the Genographic Project. Below the full transcript of the document:

 

“A century ago, the Yale University scientists who rediscovered Machu Picchu helped themselves to Inca cultural patrimony, hauling away thousands of artifacts to the United States. Today, it is widely recognized that this was an injustice to Peru and especially its indigenous peoples. Yale is returning the artifacts it took, but only after considerable pressure was brought to bear on the University.

Even as Yale reluctantly gives up its Inca plunder almost a hundred years after it was taken, the Washington, DC-based National Geographic Society is planning to capture new collections of Inca patrimony, this time in the form of human DNA. Unlike historical artifacts, however, the DNA can be copied, and once it is processed and its sequences stored, there is no practical way for it ever to be returned.

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Dr. Kim TallBear (UCB) will be teaching a class this Spring at University of California, Berkeley, on indigenous, feminist and postcolonial approaches to science and technology projects:

This seminar introduces students to a multidisciplinary set of cases and analyses spanning fields including indigenous studies, feminist and environmental geography, cultural anthropology, natural resource management, engineering, cultural studies, and science and technology studies (STS), including especially feminist and postcolonial science studies and animal studies. This course adds to ESPM’s emphasis area within the division of Society & Environment (S&E) of Science, Technology, and Environment (STE) by bringing to the fore three overlapping approaches to analyzing science and technology projects—feminist, postcolonial, and indigenous analyses.Common to these approaches and to STS is the idea that the scientific and the social/political are always already inside one another. We will emphasize the idea of “naturecultures” as we encounter thinkers who view the world not in the more usual terms of nature vs. culture, environment vs. humans, or science vs. society, but rather as made up of humans, non-humans, and other-than-human persons who act upon one another in mutually constitutive ways. View full article »

The last decade has seen an upsurge of important scholarship in the field of “animal studies.” Under this rubric, scholars with roots in philosophy, anthropology, literature, film, biology, feminist and queer theory, history, geography, and other fields are, in some ways, attempting to recover knowledge territory claimed by and for the natural sciences in the last several hundred years. Given the disciplinary roots of this multidisciplinary field, such scholarship characteristically aims essentially to “dehierarchalize” the relationships of “westerners” with their non-human others. While this move in one sense amplifies the scope of social science and humanities inquiry, it also tends to reinscribe familiar starting points. Not least, much animal studies work can tend to restrict its attention to beings that “live,” e.g. dogs, cattle, bears, mushrooms, microorganisms. This symposium brings together scholars within animal studies who focus on queer and critical race approaches with scholars working within longer-lived strands of study—indigenous approaches to knowing “nonhumans” focused on critiquing settler colonialism and its management of nonhuman others. Some of the scholars also consider human relations with beings classed in dominant frameworks as “nonliving.” Our hope is that their conversation, together with ample opportunity for audience responses and provocations, will generate fruitful intellectual cross-fertilizations.

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Amy Harmon, from the New York Times, reports on the settlement reached between the Havasupai community (Arizona, United States) and the University of Arizona.

“SUPAI, Ariz. — Seven years ago, the Havasupai Indians, who live amid the turquoise waterfalls and red cliffs miles deep in the Grand Canyon, issued a “banishment order” to keep Arizona State University employees from setting foot on their reservation — an ancient punishment for what they regarded as a genetic-era betrayal. […]”

View full article:

Please also watch the video: “Blood Journey: An Indian Tribe at the Center of a Bioethical Debate”

On March 11 The American Journal of Human Genetics published Roderick R. McInnes’s 2010 Presidential Address  at the 60th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics: “Culture: the silent language geneticists must learn—genetic research with Indigenous populations”.  McInnes presented a thoughtful piece highlighting the concerns of indigenous people around the world regarding genetic research (illustrated by positive and negative research experiences) and the urgency of doing culturally competent research “[…] research that respects the indigenous community’s beliefs, their desire for self-determination, their desire to benefit from the research, and their wish to retain intellectual property rights and ownership of samples of DNA, tissues, and body fluids. […]”

Reference:
McINNES, Roderick R.
(2011). “Culture: the silent language geneticists must learn—genetic research with indigenous populations”. American Journal of Human Genetics 88(3): 254-261. The article can be accessed through the AJHG webpage (through a subscription).

“Genetic ancestry testing is being applied in areas as diverse as forensics, genealogical research, immigration control, and biomedical research (1–3). Use of ancestry as a potential risk factor for disease is entrenched in clinical decision-making (4), so it is not surprising that techniques to determine genetic ancestry are increasingly deployed to identify genetic variants associated with disease and drug response (5). Recently, direct-to-consumer (DTC) personal genomics companies have used ancestry information to calculate individual risk profiles for a range of diseases and traits. […]”

Download below to read the full article:
LEE, Sandra Soo-Jin; Deborah A. BOLNICK, Troy DUSTER, Pilar OSSORIO and Kim TALLBEAR
(2009). “The illusive gold standard in genetic ancestry testing”. Science 325(5936): 38-39.

 

 

Panel at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S), Tokyo, Japan, August 28th.

 

Panel description:

In the mid-twentieth century, technological changes in transportation and preservation transformed the body parts of so-called primitive peoples into the material culture of biomedical science. As specimens, these materials circulate through networks of exchange that animate a global scientific community. As Warwick Anderson’s history of Kuru has shown (2008), the mobilization of ‘indigenous’ specimens is a thoroughly biosocial practice, as scientific objects come to stand in for people or even entire communities. It is through ongoing and uneven processes of alienation, transformation and exchange that knowledge, status, and obligation are produced.

This session aims to examine entanglements between populations characterized as indigenous with the scientists who introduced these body parts into global regimes of value. Specifically, the papers will explore and extend Anderson’s arguments in examination of other cases—both historical and contemporary—where indigenous bodily substance has served as a reservoir for research.  We ask: What are the historical conditions of possibility that led indigenous body parts to become enrolled in an ongoing project of knowledge production about human health and identity? What are the material legacies of the hundreds of thousands of samples that persist in laboratory freezers around the world? What kinds of technical, ethical, and emotional labor are involved with maintaining these biorepositories?  Similarly, what are the implications for how changes in experimental practice, such as PCR and DNA analyses, have led old blood to be used for new purposes?  How have postcolonial shifts in value, such as the emerging idea of biological samples as individual or collective cultural property, reconfigured the relationship between scientists and indigenous people?  What happens to exchanges when samples are presumed to be inalienable from their source or when they have outlived the bodies from which they were extracted? And how has the scientific circulation of ‘primitive’ body products been affected by a global indigenous movement’s problematization of such practices?

Moving from the lab to the field to the archive and back again, papers in this session will explore these questions from a variety of national perspectives. We aim to further our understanding of how science and technology, and biomedicine in particular, has become increasingly central to the modern constitution of difference, culture and global politics. Specifically, the papers will contribute to developing comparative perspectives in STS that link the biomedical practices and ideas which characterized the colonial frontier with contemporary scientific and cultural contestations for authority that shape today’s frontier technologies of genetic science. By examining different national contexts (Australia, Canada and Colombia), the session will explore the tensions and continuities between ‘colonial’ projects that sought to map biological difference and new biopolitical arrangements and ethical negotiations at stake in the inclusion and participation of indigenous peoples within ‘postcolonial’ biomedical research. Devoting anthropological and historical attention to the traffic of indigenous bodily substance will reveal new dimensions of ethics, citizenship, commerce, policy and social movements in the postcolonial world.

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Welcome

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.

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