Genetics, Race, and Relatedness: Human Mobility and Human Diversity in the Genographic Project

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Abstract:

The National Geographic Society's Genographic Project to reconstruct the geography of early human migration through analysis of the genetic material of indigenous people features a geographical imagination of human interconnection and diversity and differentiated human mobilities. It combines its central focus on human genetic difference with a simultaneous insistence on the progressive value of its explicitly antiracist message about shared human origins and interconnections. An apparently progressive language of multiculturalism, diversity, global human harmony, and indigenous rights frames reductive versions of relatedness, unreflexive assumptions of scientific authority, and primitivizing accounts of exotic and isolated indigeneity. Through its focus on bio-political geographies of difference, this article provides a productive contribution to critical geographies of race and a scholarly engagement with new genetic geographies of human diversity in academic geography. It is also a starting point for a political–pedagogical project that uses the Genographic Project against itself as a resource for an alternative critical exploration of race and relatedness.

Keywords: Genographic Project; Proyecto Genográfico; anti-racism; antirracismo; diversidad; diversity; genetic relatedness; race; raza; relacionalidad genética

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00045608.2011.603646

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Queen Mary College,University of London,

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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