Nation and the Absent Presence of Race in Latin American Genomics

Peter Wade, Vivette Garcia Deister, Michael Kent, Maria Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Adriana Diaz Del Castillo

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Recent work on genomics and race makes the argument that concepts and categories of race are subtly reproduced in the practice of genomic science, despite the explicit rejection of race as meaningful biological reality by many geneticists. Our argument in this paper is that racialized meanings in genomics, rather than standing alone, are very often wrapped up in ideas about nation. This seems to us a rather neglected aspect in the literature about genomics and race. More specifically, we characterize race as an absent presence in Latin America and argue that genomics in the region finds a particular expression of race through concepts of nation, because this vehicle suits the deep-rooted ambiguity of race in the region. To make this argument we use data from an ethnographic project with genetics labs in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-522
Number of pages25
JournalCurrent Anthropology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


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