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The SING Workshop is now accepting applications from Native American, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native, or Canadian First Nation   applicants (all expenses paid for those who are accepted).

According to the website, the goals of the program are as follows:

Facilitate discussion on indigenous cultural values and whether scientific methods can be beneficially incorporated with these values,

Provide awareness of how genomics is currently used as a tool to assist in projects focused on natural resources, history and biomedicine and

To increase the number of Native Americans in science research, leadership and teaching careers at all levels.

This promises to be an interesting and hand-on program in genomics education with involvement from critical scholars in both the genome and social sciences who understand the difficult histories surrounding Native American encounters with genomics, yet the need for Native American communities to tackle this area of science in ways that are in line with their biomedical, research, and governance interests.

See for complete instructions as well as information on the curriculum, advisory board members [Kim TallBear is one of them], and sponsors.


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. […]”

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.



[From the UN Website]

“The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday September 13, by a majority of 144 states in favour, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) and 11 abstentions (Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Samoa and Ukraine). Click here to view the voting record.

Since its adoption, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States have all reversed their positions and now endorse the Declaration. Colombia and Samoa have also reversed their positions and indicated their support for the Declaration.

During the Durban Review Conference in April 2009, 182 States from all regions of the world reached consensus on an outcome document in which they “ Welcome[d] the adoption of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples which has a positive impact on the protection of victims and, in this context, urge[d] States to take all necessary measures to implement the rights of indigenous peoples in accordance with international human rights instruments without discrimination…” (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Outcome document of the Durban Review Conference , 24 April 2009, para. 73).”

Download below to read the full declaration:

UNITED NATIONS (2008). United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Washington D.C, UN.


The increasing complexity and dispersion of ethical issues in research on science, technology and society call for multidisciplinary involvement in research design and conduct. Yet the epistemological assumptions, skills, and methods for tackling what are termed “ethical” issues vary across fields of scholarship. This proposed workshop will take place on the heels of and extend the discussion of the U.S. Congress’ interest to identify the contours of ethics in science research via the America Competes Act of 2007. As a way of narrowing down this vast field, this workshop will bring together science and technology studies scholars with training in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and other fields whose research approaches ethics in science and technology from the perspective of justice. The objectives of this proposed workshop are twofold:

1) To provide a space and dialogue for multidisciplinary reflection on the relationships among science, knowledge, ethics, and justice.

2) To document shared and divergent approaches to ethics in science and justice with a focus on the meaning and practice of socially and/or politically engaged research.

In order to create substantive dialogue, the workshop will be oriented around the three themes situated at the intersection of science, ethics, and justice. These themes are environmental justice, reproductive justice and genomic justice.


Health Equity Institute
San Francisco State University (SFSU)
San Francisco, CA

Laura Mamo  (SFSU)
Jennifer Fishman (McGill University)

At least two dozen companies now market “genetic ancestry tests” to help consumers reconstruct their family histories and determine the geographic origins of their ancestors. More than 460,000 people have purchased these tests over the past 6 years (1), still skyrocketing (1–4). Some scientists support this enterprise because it makes genetics accessible and relevant; otHers view it with indifference, seeing the tests as merely “recreational.” However, both scientists and consumers should approach genetic ancestry testing with caution because (i) the tests can have a profound impact on individuals and communities, (ii) the assumptions and limitations of these tests make them less informative than many realize, and (iii) commercialization has led to misleading practices that reinforce misconceptions.

Download below to read the full article:
BOLNICK, Deborah A.; Duana FULLWILEY, Troy DUSTER, Richard S. COOPER, Joan H. FUJIMURA, Jonathan KAHN, Jay S. KAUFMAN, Jonathan MARKS, Ann MORNING, Alondra NELSON, Pilar OSSORIO, Jenny REARDON, Susan M. REVERBY and Kimberly TALLBEAR
(2007). “The science and business of genetic ancestry testing”. Science 318 (5849): 399-400.

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.

View full article »

Genomics, Governance, and Indigenous Peoples (November 6-7, 2008) gathered together 12 scholar practitioners to discuss the promise and perils of current efforts to transform indigenous peoples’ governance of genomic research. Invited participants included experts in human genetics and the social, legal, and ethical aspects of genomics in different national and cultural contexts. Individual participants have experience working within existing regimes of governance, and they see a need for policy innovation and change in relation to genomic research. Some participants are already engaged in experimental efforts to create change. Participants engaged in several facilitated dialogues organized around several themes including property, sovereignty, and the “politics of representation” (who represents whom and who decides?) First conceived as a workshop focused on the United States and “tribal” governance of genomics, the workshop has broadened to include scholar practitioners working in other parts of the world in recognition that strategies for governing genomic research cannot be contained by national borders. Workshop outcomes will be relevant for indigenous governance within multiple national contexts. They include an edited, multi-authored volume, and a policy paper focusing on the core themes of the workshop: property and various forms of sovereignty as those are informed by both domestic and international structures of law and policy. The workshop was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).



Back (left to right): Philip (Sam) Deloria, Brett Lee Shelton, Nanibaa’ Garrison, Terry Powell, Paul Oldham, and Kim TallBear. Front (left to right): Nadja Kanellopoulou, Jenny Reardon, Pilar N. Ossorio, Rebecca Tsosie, Brian Wynne, and Laura Arbour.


College of Law
Arizona State University (ASU)
Tempe, AZ

Kim TallBear (University of California, Berkeley, UCB)
Jenny Reardon (University of California, Santa Cruz, UCSC)
Rebecca Tsosie (Arizona State University, ASU)


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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