‘We Are All the Same, We All Are Mestizos’: Imagined Populations and Nations in Genetics Research in Colombia

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-07-29 20:16Z by Steven

‘We Are All the Same, We All Are Mestizos’: Imagined Populations and Nations in Genetics Research in Colombia

Science as Culture
Volume 23, Issue 2, 2014
pages 226-252
DOI: 10.1080/09505431.2013.838214

María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Assistant Professor
Department of Design
University of the Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

Adriana Díaz Del Castillo Hernández, Independent Researcher
Consultoría en Estudios Sociales Sobre Educación, Salud, Ciencia y Tecnología, Bogotá, Colombia

In Colombia, as in other Latin American countries, current population genetics research is based on the understanding that Colombians constitute a mestizo nation, given the admixture process that took place between Africans, Amerindians, and Europeans during colonial times. The mestizo is a pervasive category used by geneticists to conduct, organise, and publish research studies that deal with the continent’s peopling process and the genetic makeup of its contemporary population(s). It is also the dominant imaginary for the Colombian population and a key nation-building ideology. By tracing how this category moves and is used across four Colombian genetics laboratories, it is possible to discern that despite its apparently clear-cut boundaries, the mestizo is contingent, contested, and flexible, allowing for multiple understandings and usages. This flexibility and multiplicity are visible in the quantification of genetic ancestry, the divisions of geographical location, and the understanding of gender. Such understandings allow one to think about a homogeneous nation (inclusive) that is simultaneously heterogeneous (exclusive); they provide multiple but not necessarily contradictory possibilities of being mestizo, allowing the coexistence of images of the nation that could otherwise seem contradictory; and they permit navigation around contested terms such as race, while simultaneously thinking of mixed races or racialised individuals. Finally, these flexible and multiple constructions of the mestizo (re)produce various subjects as ‘other’, whether they are women, the Indigenous, the black/dark, or the poor.

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Nation and the Absent Presence of Race in Latin American Genomics

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico on 2016-07-29 19:30Z by Steven

Nation and the Absent Presence of Race in Latin American Genomics

Current Anthropology
Volume 55, Number 5 (October 2014)
pages 497-522
DOI: 10.1086/677945

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Vivette García Deister, Associate Professor
Social Studies of Science Laboratory
National Autonomous University of Mexico

Michael Kent, Honorary Research Fellow in Social Anthropology
School of Social Sciences
University of Manchester

María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Assistant Professor
Department of Design
University of the Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

Adriana Díaz del Castillo Hernández, Independent Researcher
Consultoría en Estudios Sociales Sobre Educación, Salud, Ciencia y Tecnología, Bogotá, Colombia

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.

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Towards a Biopolitics of Beauty: Eugenics, Aesthetic Hierarchies and Plastic Surgery in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2016-07-29 19:05Z by Steven

Towards a Biopolitics of Beauty: Eugenics, Aesthetic Hierarchies and Plastic Surgery in Brazil

Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies: Travesia
Volume 24, Issue 4, 2015
Special Issue: Visual Culture and Violence in Contemporary Mexico
DOI: 10.1080/13569325.2015.1091296

Alvaro Jarrín, Assistant Professor
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts

This article provides a historical and ethnographic perspective to explain the saliency of beauty within the reproduction of racial inequalities in Brazil. I argue that Brazil’s neo-Lamarckian eugenics movement was the first to craft beauty as an index of racial improvement within the nation, and this eugenic legacy undergirds many of the contemporary discourses of beautification. Plastic surgery, in particular, inherited the biopolitical aim to produce a homogeneous body politic through beautification, an aim that was easily adapted to the contemporary context of neoliberal self-improvement. Today, beauty is a technology of biopower, one which ranks the population within an aesthetic hierarchy that produces non-white facial characteristics as undesirable, and interpellates patients as responsible for their own surgical corrections, albeit with state support in the case of the poor. Thus, this article contributes to the literature that understands science and medicine as key within the history of racialization in Latin America, making explicit how biopolitics has fashioned race and beauty as inextricable and intertwined elements of social inclusion and exclusion.

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What Scientists Mean When They Say ‘Race’ Is Not Genetic

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-07-20 21:07Z by Steven

What Scientists Mean When They Say ‘Race’ Is Not Genetic

The Huffington Post
2016-02-09

Jacqueline Howard, Senior Science Editor

A new paper explains why it can be dangerous to think otherwise.

If a team of scientists in Philadelphia and New York have their way, using race to categorize groups of people in biological and genetic research will be forever discontinued.

The concept of race in such research is “problematic at best and harmful at worst,” the researchers argued in a new paper published in the journal Science on Friday.

However, they also said that social scientists should continue to study race as a social construct to better understand the impact of racism on health.

So what does all this mean? HuffPost Science recently posed that question and others to the paper’s co-author, Michael Yudell, who is associate professor and chair of community health and prevention at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University in Philadelphia…

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In First for Sitting President, Obama Publishes a Scholarly Article

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-13 00:32Z by Steven

In First for Sitting President, Obama Publishes a Scholarly Article

Fortune
2016-07-11

Jeff John Roberts

Call him scholar-in-chief

An author named “Barack Obama, JD” published an article on Monday in a scholarly journal. No prizes for guessing the topic: It’s an assessment of the Affordable Care Act as well as policy recommendations for the next president to improve the U.S. health care system.

The article, titled “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps,” was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The piece, which contains 68 footnotes to academic journals and government publications, claims to present evidence showing that the number of Americans without health insurance has dropped dramatically, and resulted in lower hospital readmission rates. Obama also used the article to recommend the introduction of a “public option” plan in parts of the U.S. and for the federal government to push down drug prices…

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Is there a racial ‘care gap’ in medical treatment?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Videos on 2016-07-12 23:31Z by Steven

Is there a racial ‘care gap’ in medical treatment?

PBS News Hour
2016-04-05

A new survey has found implicit biases in medical students that may explain why black patients are sometimes undertreated for pain, with some students believing that black people feel less pain and have thicker skin than white people. For more on the perplexing discovery, Gwen Ifill talks to Dr. David Satin of the University of Minnesota and Dorothy Roberts of the University of Pennsylvania.

GWEN IFILL: A new study finds African-American patients are often treated differently when it comes to medicine and care. The survey of more than 500 people, 400 of them medical students, found implicit bias exists that may help explain why black people are sometimes undertreated for pain.

Among its findings: Medical students believed that African-Americans felt less pain than white patients, and even thought their skin was thicker.

For more on this perplexing discovery, we turn to Dr. David Satin of the University of Minnesota Medical Center, and Dorothy Roberts of the university of Pennsylvania.

Thank you both for joining us.

Dr. Satin, try to describe this disparity for me. Why does this exist? And is it new?

DR. DAVID SATIN, University of Minnesota Medical Center: So, Gwen, we have known that this has been an issue for at least a couple decades.

And every now and then, a study comes out that underscores the need for the field of medicine, and in particular medical education, to do some work and get it right.

So, this is a problem, and it’s been a problem, and hopefully this study will spur on more activity.

GWEN IFILL: Dorothy Roberts, is this a medical problem or a sociological problem?

DOROTHY ROBERTS, University of Pennsylvania: It’s both.

I think what’s really important and fascinating about the study is that it, for the first time, links what we have long known as undertreatment of pain for black patients with doctors, or at least medical students’ false beliefs about biological differences based on race.

And those beliefs, as the study has shown, are widely held by laypeople as well. They’re deeply embedded, longstanding myths about racial difference, especially biological differences between races, which goes back to the very concept that race is a biological difference that is widespread in U.S. society. So it’s sociological, as well as medical…

Read the entire transcript here. Watch the interview here.

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United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-07-12 23:00Z by Steven

United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps

The Journal of the American Medical Association
Published online 2016-07-11
DOI: 10.1001/jama.2016.9797

Barack Obama, JD
President of the United States, Washington, DC

Importance The Affordable Care Act is the most important health care legislation enacted in the United States since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. The law implemented comprehensive reforms designed to improve the accessibility, affordability, and quality of health care.

Objectives To review the factors influencing the decision to pursue health reform, summarize evidence on the effects of the law to date, recommend actions that could improve the health care system, and identify general lessons for public policy from the Affordable Care Act.

Evidence Analysis of publicly available data, data obtained from government agencies, and published research findings. The period examined extends from 1963 to early 2016.

Findings The Affordable Care Act has made significant progress toward solving long-standing challenges facing the US health care system related to access, affordability, and quality of care. Since the Affordable Care Act became law, the uninsured rate has declined by 43%, from 16.0% in 2010 to 9.1% in 2015, primarily because of the law’s reforms. Research has documented accompanying improvements in access to care (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults unable to afford care of 5.5 percentage points), financial security (for example, an estimated reduction in debts sent to collection of $600-$1000 per person gaining Medicaid coverage), and health (for example, an estimated reduction in the share of nonelderly adults reporting fair or poor health of 3.4 percentage points). The law has also begun the process of transforming health care payment systems, with an estimated 30% of traditional Medicare payments now flowing through alternative payment models like bundled payments or accountable care organizations. These and related reforms have contributed to a sustained period of slow growth in per-enrollee health care spending and improvements in health care quality. Despite this progress, major opportunities to improve the health care system remain.

Conclusions and Relevance Policy makers should build on progress made by the Affordable Care Act by continuing to implement the Health Insurance Marketplaces and delivery system reform, increasing federal financial assistance for Marketplace enrollees, introducing a public plan option in areas lacking individual market competition, and taking actions to reduce prescription drug costs. Although partisanship and special interest opposition remain, experience with the Affordable Care Act demonstrates that positive change is achievable on some of the nation’s most complex challenges.

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Q&A with ‘Indian Blood’ author Andrew J. Jolivette

Posted in Articles, Gay & Lesbian, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, United States on 2016-07-11 22:26Z by Steven

Q&A with ‘Indian Blood’ author Andrew J. Jolivette

University of Washington Press Blog
2016-06-24

In his new book Indian Blood: HIV & Colonial Trauma in San Francisco’s Two-Spirit Community, Andrew J. Jolivette examines the correlation between mixed-race identity and HIV/AIDS among Native American gay men and transgendered people, and provides an analysis of the emerging and often contested LGBTQ “two-spirit” identification as it relates to public health and mixed-race identity.

Prior to contact with European settlers, most Native American tribes held their two-spirit members in high esteem, even considering them spiritually advanced. However, after contact—and religious conversion—attitudes changed and social and cultural support networks were ruptured. This discrimination led to a breakdown in traditional values, beliefs, and practices, which in turn pushed many two-spirit members to participate in high-risk behaviors. The result is a disproportionate number of two-spirit members who currently test positive for HIV.

Using surveys, focus groups, and community discussions to examine the experiences of HIV-positive members of San Francisco’s two-spirit community, Indian Blood provides an innovative approach to understanding how colonization continues to affect American Indian communities and opens a series of crucial dialogues in the fields of Native American studies, public health, queer studies, and critical mixed-race studies.

We spoke with Jolivette about his book, published this spring.

What inspired you to get into your field?

Andrew J. Jolivette: American Indian studies is in my blood. I felt I had a commitment and a responsibility to give back to my community and I also felt that it was important that more Native perspectives be centered and not just represented or driven by outsiders…

Read the entire interview here.

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Dangerous Ideas

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States, Women on 2016-07-11 21:30Z by Steven

Dangerous Ideas

The Pennsylvania Gazette
2016-06-20

Melissa Jacobs


Photo by Chris Crisman C’03

PIK Professor Dorothy Roberts exposes how the myth of biologically distinct races—forged in the era of slavery—continues to poison the present, affecting attitudes and policies on everything from child welfare to medical treatment.

There’s not much humor to be found around the subjects Dorothy Roberts deals with, but the Saturday Night Live parody, “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black,” was both bitingly funny and practically tailor-made for analysis by the lawyer, scholar, and social-justice advocate who serves as the University’s 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor.

Roberts referenced the sketch at the beginning of a talk titled “What’s So Dangerous About Black Women’s Sexuality?” that she gave on February 17. That was shortly after Beyoncé’s release of her music video, “Formation,” and live performance of the song at the Super Bowl halftime show—“backed up by an entourage of black women sporting Black Panther Party Afros and berets,” Roberts said, and lyrically “saluting the Black Lives Matter movement, protesting against police brutality, and celebrating black culture and black beauty, including her ‘Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils’ and her daughter Blue Ivy’s baby hair and Afro.”

For the most part, “black people were really proud and happy that Beyoncé was as militant as she was,” Roberts added. “White America, on the other hand, reacted—at least much of it reacted—quite differently.”

Which the folks at SNL took and ran with.

Formatted like a movie trailer, “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black” skewered whites’ assumptions around cultural ownership (“Maybe this song isn’t for us.” “But usually everything is!”), arrogance in assigning racial categories (a familiar co-worker isn’t black black; but a youth outfitted in a gold Africa pendant and camouflage jacket obviously is), and fears of racial contamination (in a white mother’s mounting horror as she imagines her tween daughter has “turned black,” too, from listening to Beyoncé’s music.)

But Roberts homed in on another revealing exchange: “To me the most telling, truthful moment in this skit is two white guys cowering under a desk, when they realize that not only Beyoncé but other female celebrities who become popular with white people—like Kerry Washington, the star of ABC’s very popular Scandal—are also black. And one man says, ‘How can they be black? They’re women.’ And the other shrieks, ‘I think they might be both!’…

…“My parents had a strong sense that all human beings are equal and can live harmoniously and peacefully together,” Roberts says. “They were not so much civil rights advocates as human rights advocates. My very early childhood was deliberately focused on human equality.”

As a kindergartner, Roberts recalls, she embraced her parents’ philosophy. “I remember being proud that I had parents of different races and that was an important part of my identity. But by the time I was in seventh grade, I identified as black and was much more interested in liberation for black people than in interracial relationships,” she says. “Until extremely recently, I really diminished the fact that my parents were black and white. Most people think of me as black. I don’t identify as biracial or mixed race.”…

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Race and Medicine in America (AMST 256 – 01)

Posted in Course Offerings, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, United States on 2016-07-11 15:41Z by Steven

Race and Medicine in America (AMST 256 – 01)

Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut
Fall 2016

Megan H. Glick, Assistant Professor of American Studies

This course will trace ideas of race in American medical science and its cultural contexts, from the late 19th century to the present. We will explore how configurations of racial difference have changed over time and how medical knowledge about the body has both influenced, and helped to shape, social, political, and popular cultural forces. We will interrogate the idea of medical knowledge as a “naturalizing” discourse that produces racial classifications as essential, and biologically based.

We will treat medical sources as primary documents, imagining them as but one interpretation of the meaning of racial difference, alongside alternate sources that will include political tracts, advertisements, photographs, newspaper articles, and so on.

Key concepts explored will include slavery’s medical legacy, theories of racial hierarchy and evolution, the eugenics movement, “race-specific” medications and diseases, public health politics and movements, genetics and modern “roots” projects, immigration and new technologies of identification, and intersections of race and disability.

For more information, click here.

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