"The more white and Caucasian the person is, the less predisposition s/he has": obesity and the racial origins of health risks among Mexican mestizos.

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationResearch


This paper explores the discourses of Mexican scientists and doctors on genetics and obesity and how these relate to ideas about race, class and national identity. Drawing on interviews with geneticists and medical staff treating obese children in Mexico, the paper argues that the “thrifty genotype hypothesis” converges with racialized imaginaries that are being lent authority by genomic science. We discuss the implications of such imaginaries for social exclusion, especially in the context of the increasing and unregulated commodification of life science. We then suggest that medical discourse downplays genetic causes in favour of environmental, cultural and epigenetic processes, while still racializing in ways that might have negative effects for patients at an individual and group level. Rather than focusing on minority groups, as is commonly the case in the literature on race and genomics, we suggest that in Mexico ideas about racialized genetic (and cultural) ancestry impinge on the majority, opening broader panoramas of racialized pathologization.
Period19 Jan 201720 Jan 2017
Event titleThe “Genomic Self”: Genomics, Health, and Justice in Latin America/Mexico
Event typeWorkshop
LocationMexico City, MexicoShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational