Biomapping Indigenous Peoples

Towards an Understanding of the Issues


Where do our distant ancestors come from, and which routes did they travel around the globe as hunter–gatherers in prehistoric times? Genomics provides a fascinating insight into these questions and unlocks a mass of information carried by strands of DNA in each cell of the human body.
For Indigenous peoples, scientific research of any kind evokes past – and not forgotten – suffering, racial and racist taxonomy, and, finally, dispossession. Survival of human cell lines outside the body clashes with traditional beliefs, as does the notion that DNA may tell a story different from their own creation story.
Extracting and analysing DNA is a new science, barely a few decades old. In the medical field, it carries the promise of genetically adapted health-care. However, if this is to be done, genetic identity has to be defined first. While a narrow genetic definition might be usable by medical science, it does not do justice to Indigenous peoples’ cultural identity and raises the question of governmental benefits where their genetic identity is not strong enough.
People migrate and intermix, and have always done so. Genomics trace the genes but not the cultures. Cultural survival – or revival – and Indigenous group cohesion are unrelated to DNA, explaining why Indigenous leaders adamantly refuse genetic testing.
This book deals with the issues surrounding ‘biomapping’ the Indigenous, seen from the viewpoints of discourse analysts, historians, lawyers, anthropologists, sociologists, museum curators, health-care specialists, and Native researchers.

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Susanne Berthier–Foglar, Professor of American Studies and Native American Studies, is the author of Les Indiens Pueblo du Nouveau-Mexique (2010).
Sheila Collingwood–Whittick, Senior Lecturer in Postcolonial Literatures, is the editor of the essay collection The Pain of Unbelonging: Alienation and Identity in Australasian Literature (2007).
Sandrine Tolazzi, Associate Professor, teaches Canadian and Australian civilization, and specializes in identity issues and Indigenous claims. All three Co-Editors teach at the University of Grenoble.

Contributors: Ian Anderson, Renate Bartl, Susanne Berthier–Foglar, Sheila Collingwood–Whittick, Jarosław Derlicki, Séverine Gauthier–Labourot, Natasha Golbeck, Emma Kowal, Frank Kressing, Lisa O’Sullivan, Ulia Popova–Gosart, Matthew Rimmer, Wendy D. Roth, Marie–Claude Strigler, Sandrine Tolazzi, Yu–Yueh Tsai, Sheila van Holst Pellekaan, Gerald Vizenor, Andrea Zittlau

List of Illustrations
Susanne Berthier–Foglar: Human Genomics and the Indigenous
Sheila Collingwood–Whittick: Indigenous Peoples and Western Science
Sandrine Tolazzi: Reconstruction of Indigenous Identities in the Twentieth Century
Defining and Mapping
Renate Bartl: Genetic Blood Testing of Native Americans in the USA
Ulia Popova–Gosart: Indigenous Peoples: Attempts to Define
Frank Kressing: Screening Indigenous Peoples’ Genes: The End of Racism or Postmodern Bio-Imperialism?
Séverine Gauthier-Labourot: No Matter How White or Black the Skin, How Pure the Blood: Cherokee Identity and the 2007 Vote
Marie-Claude Strigler: Tribal Communities and Genetic Research: Concerns and Expectations
Yu-Yueh Tsai: The Geneticization of Ethnicity and Ethnicization of Biomedicine: On the “Taiwan Bio-Bank”
Surviving and Resisting
Gerald Vizenor: Genome Survivance
Jarosław Derlicki: The Edge of Extinction: Ethnic Survival Among the Yukaghirs of Northern Yakutia
Sheila van Holst Pellekaan: Genetic Signatures of Australia’s First Peoples Survive Recent History
Andrea Zittlau: Nutrition and the Indigenous Body: A Genetic Concept of Food
Opposing and Reclaiming
Sheila Collingwood–Whittick: Indigenous Opposition to Genetics Research: Views from Aboriginal Australia
Emma Kowal: Disturbing Pasts and Promising Futures: The Politics of Indigenous Genetic Research in Australia
Emma Kowal and Ian Anderson: Difficult Conversations: Talking About Indigenous Genetic Health Research in Australia
Matthew Rimmer: Travelling Bones: The Repatriation of Indigenous Ancestral Remains
Lisa O’Sullivan: Material Legacies: Indigenous Remains and Contested Values in UK Museum Collections
Natasha Golbeck and Wendy D. Roth: Aboriginal Claims: DNA Ancestry Testing and Changing Concepts of Indigeneity
Notes on Contributors and Editors
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