Episode 38: Skulls and Skin (Seeing White, Part 8)

Posted in Audio, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews on 2017-06-11 22:01Z by Steven

Episode 38: Skulls and Skin (Seeing White, Part 8)

Scene on Radio
2017-05-17

John Biewen, Host and Audio Program Director/Instructor
Center for Documentary Studies
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina


Skulls in the Samuel Morton Collection, University of Pennsylvania Museum. Photo by John Biewen

Scientists weren’t the first to divide humanity along racial – and racist – lines. But for hundreds of years, racial scientists claimed to provide proof for those racist hierarchies – and some still do.

Resources for this episode:

Listen to the podcast (00:45:56) here. Download the podcast here.

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The Future Is Mixed Race

Posted in Audio, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive on 2017-05-17 01:41Z by Steven

The Future Is Mixed Race

Inside Higher Ed
Academic Minute
2017-05-16

Lynn Pasquerella, Host and President
Association of American Colleges & Universities

Today on the Academic Minute, Scott Solomon, professor of biosciences at Rice University, delves into gene flow and how globalization and mixed-race children could hold a key to our future.

Are human beings a finished product? In today’s Academic Minute, Rice University’s Scott Solomon delves into gene flow and how globalization and mixed-race children could hold a key to our future. Solomon is a professor of biosciences at Rice. A transcript of this podcast can be found here.

Download the episode (00:02:29) here.

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Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom: Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Mexico, Monographs, Social Science on 2017-05-03 02:22Z by Steven

Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom: Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America

Duke University Press
2017-05-05
328 pages
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6358-3
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-6373-6
12 illustrations

Peter Wade, Professor of Social Anthropology
University of Manchester

Race mixture, or mestizaje, has played a critical role in the history, culture, and politics of Latin America. In Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom, Peter Wade draws on a multidisciplinary research study in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. He shows how Latin American elites and outside observers have emphasized mixture’s democratizing potential, depicting it as a useful resource for addressing problems of racism (claiming that race mixture undoes racial difference and hierarchy), while Latin American scientists participate in this narrative with claims that genetic studies of mestizos can help isolate genetic contributors to diabetes and obesity and improve health for all. Wade argues that, in the process, genomics produces biologized versions of racialized difference within the nation and the region, but a comparative approach nuances the simple idea that highly racialized societies give rise to highly racialized genomics. Wade examines the tensions between mixture and purity, and between equality and hierarchy in liberal political orders, exploring how ideas and scientific data about genetic mixture are produced and circulate through complex networks.

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DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2017-04-23 20:21Z by Steven

DNA Tests, and Sometimes Surprising Results

The New York Times
2017-04-20

Anita Foeman, Professor of Communication Studies
West Chester University, West Chester, Pennsylvania


Students at West Chester University in Pennsylvania have volunteered to take part in ancestry DNA testing. Anita Foeman, a communications professor, says she has found that conversations around race are “complicated and jagged.”
Credit West Chester University

Race and identity in many ways define who we think we are, while modern genetics can challenge those notions. To delve into these issues, I am involved with a communications studies project at West Chester University in Pennsylvania that explores narratives at the intersection of race and identity.

For the last decade, I have invited hundreds of people to be part of ancestry DNA tests. But first I ask people how they identify themselves racially. It has been very interesting to explore their feelings about the differences between how they define themselves and what their DNA makeup shows when the test results come in.

Biologically, our ancestral differences reflect only a 0.1 percent difference in DNA. Yet we often cling to those differences — both in unity with our fellow people of origin and, at times, in divisiveness.

Over all, the experiment has provided a special opportunity to explore the lines of race. I found that as human beings, our strategies for survival are the same, and our similarities far outweigh our differences…

Bernard: Identifies as: Black; father is black and mother is white

Credit Erica C. Thompson/West Chester University

His prediction: 50% European, 50% African

His comments before the test: My mother said, “I know you are me, but no cop is going to take the time to find out your mother is white.” She was very specific about raising me as a black man.

Results: 91% European, 5% Middle Eastern, 2% Hispanic; less than 1% African and Asian

Thoughts about his ancestry results: What are you trying to do to me? You have caused a lot of problems in my family. I know my nose is sharp and my skin is light, but my politics are as black as night. Today, I don’t identify as mixed. I reject my white privilege in a racist America. There is no way that I or my kids will identify as anything other than black…

Read the entire article here.

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Native Affairs newsreader Oriini Kaipara identified as ‘full-blooded Maori’ via DNA test

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Oceania, Videos on 2017-04-12 20:54Z by Steven

Native Affairs newsreader Oriini Kaipara identified as ‘full-blooded Maori’ via DNA test

The New Zealand Herald
2017-04-11

A DNA test appears to have found a woman with 100 per cent Maori DNA.

An analysis of the DNA of Oriini Kaipara, 33, has shown that – despite her having both Maori and Pakeha ancestry – her genes only contain Maori DNA. That makes her, in her own words, a “full-blooded Maori”.

Culturally, people identify as Maori through their whakapapa, while legally a person is defined as Maori if they are of Maori descent, even through one long-distant ancestor.

However, the intermingling of different ethnicities in New Zealand over the past 200 years means all Maori people are thought to have some non-Maori ancestry, so would not be expected to have 100 per cent Maori DNA.

But Kaipara, 33, is different. The Native Affairs newsreader has some Pakeha ancestry, but it seems through a series of genetic flukes her parents passed on only the DNA from her Maori ancestors…

Read the entire article here.

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Black, White, Black and White: mixed race and health in Canada

Posted in Articles, Canada, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2017-04-12 00:00Z by Steven

Black, White, Black and White: mixed race and health in Canada

Ethnicity & Health
Published online: 2017-04-10
pages 1-12
DOI: 10.1080/13557858.2017.1315374

Gerry Veenstra, Professor of Sociology
University of British Columbia

  • Objectives: To document inequalities in hypertension, self-rated health, and self-rated mental health between Canadian adults who identify as Black, White, or Black and White and determine whether differences in educational attainment and household income explain them.
  • Design: The dataset was comprised of ten cycles (2001–2013) of the Canadian Community Health Survey. The health inequalities were examined by way of binary logistic regression modeling of hypertension and multinomial logistic regression modeling of self-rated health and self-rated mental health. Educational attainment and household income were investigated as potentially mediating factors using nested models and the Karlson-Holm-Breen decomposition technique.
  • Results: Black respondents were significantly more likely than White respondents to report hypertension, a disparity that was partly attributable to differences in income. White respondents reported the best and Black respondents reported the worst overall self-rated health, a disparity that was entirely attributable to income differences. Respondents who identified as both Black and White were significantly more likely than White respondents to report fair or poor mental health, a disparity that was partly attributable to income differences. After controlling for income, Black respondents were significantly less likely than White respondents to report fair or poor mental health. Educational attainment did not contribute to explaining any of these associations.
  • Conclusion: Canadians who identify as both Black and White fall between Black Canadians and White Canadians in regards to self-rated overall health, report the worst self-rated mental health of the three populations, and, with White Canadians, are the least likely to report hypertension. These heterogeneous findings are indicative of a range of diverse processes operative in the production of Black-White health inequalities in Canada.

Read or purchase the article here.

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The Myth of Human Races, Second Edition

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-04-11 00:12Z by Steven

The Myth of Human Races, Second Edition

Wheatmark
2016-07-25
288 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1627874175

Alain F. Corcos, Professor Emeritus of Botany and Plant Pathology
Michigan State University

The idea that human races exist is a socially constructed myth that has no grounding in science. Regardless of skin, hair, or eye color, stature or physiognomy, we are all of one race. Nonetheless, scientists, social scientists, and pseudoscientists have, for three centuries, tried vainly to prove that distinctive and separate “races” of humanity exist. These protagonists of race theory have based their flawed research on one or more of five specious assumptions:

  • humanity can be classified into groups using identifiable physical characteristics
  • human characteristics are transmitted “through the blood”
  • distinct human physical characteristics are inherited together
  • physical features can be linked to human behavior
  • human groups or “races” are by their very nature unequal and, therefore, they can be ranked in order of intellectual, moral, and cultural superiority

The Myth of Human Races systematically dispels these fallacies and unravels the web of flawed research that has been woven to demonstrate the superiority of one group of people over another.

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Genetic Determinism, Technology Optimism, and Race

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2017-04-10 00:44Z by Steven

Genetic Determinism, Technology Optimism, and Race

The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Volume 661, Issue 1, 2015
pages 160-180
DOI: 10.1177/0002716215587875

Jennifer Hochschild, Henry LaBarre Jayne Professor of Government; Professor of African and African American Studies
Harvard University

Maya Sen, Assistant Professor of Public Policy
Harvard University

We begin with a typology of Americans’ understanding of the links between genetic inheritance and racial or ethnic groups. The typology has two dimensions: one running from genetic determinism to social construction, and the other from technology optimism to technology pessimism. Construing each dimension as a dichotomy enables four distinct political perspectives on the possibilities for reducing racial inequality in the United States through genomics. We then use a new public opinion survey to analyze Americans’ use of the typology. Survey respondents who perceive that some phenotypes are more prevalent in one group than another due to genetic factors are disproportionately technology optimists. Republicans and Democrats are equally likely to hold that set of views, as are self-identified blacks, whites, and Latinos. The article discusses the findings and speculates about alternative interpretations of the fact that partisanship and group identity do not differentiate Americans in their views of the links between genetic inheritance and racial inequality.

Read the entire article here.

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[Interview] If only parents gave DNA samples when they put children up for adoption

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2017-04-09 21:41Z by Steven

[Interview] If only parents gave DNA samples when they put children up for adoption

The Hankyoreh
2017-04-04

Kang Sung-man, Senior Staff writer


Bella Siegel-Dalton is a mixed-race adoptee who returned to South Korea after 51 years to look for her biological mother’s family. The big Korean letters on her shirt say, “Back in South Korea, my mother’s country.” (by Kang Sung-man, senior staff writer)

More Korean adoptees are organizing to search for their birth parents through DNA testing

Bella Siegel-Dalton is back in South Korea for the first time since being adopted by a family in the Napa Valley of northern California in 1966. When Bella Siegel-Dalton, 56, met a Hankyoreh reporter in a coffee shop on the first floor of the Lotte Hotel in Seoul on Apr. 1, her face was pallid. Because of kidney trouble, she needs to receive a transplant within two years. She’s also receiving chemotherapy after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Seven years ago, Siegel-Dalton identified her biological father in the US through DNA testing, but he had already passed away. During this trip to South Korea she says she wants to find her biological mother. “My 17-day trip to South Korea is challenging, so I’m gritting my teeth and hanging on. But it’s not painful, because this visit is so important to me,” she said.

Siegel-Dalton is a mixed-race adoptee who was born in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province, in 1961, to a South Korean woman and an American soldier. Her birth name was Lee Ji-sun. “My adoptive parents were really good people. My mother was an English teacher with a Master’s degree, while my father was a researcher for Shell Oil. They would sometimes let me try kimchi and listen to ‘Arirang’ so that I wouldn’t forget my memories of Korea,” she said…

Read the entire article here.

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Dr. Sandra Soo-Jin Lee: Toward a More Precise Genetics

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive on 2017-03-25 20:30Z by Steven

Dr. Sandra Soo-Jin Lee: Toward a More Precise Genetics

Guernica / a magazine of global arts & politics
2017-02-27

Lynette Chiu
Brooklyn, New York

The medical anthropologist on the imperative to move beyond race in genetic research and the explanatory power of life experience and inequality.

For decades, the idea that excavating the genetic origins of disease could transform treatment of the body has lived in the sea of public imagination, buoyant but as yet unrealized. The Human Genome Project, a landmark initiative undertaken between 1990 and 2003, identified and analyzed all the genes found in humans, and sowed the potential for new understanding of major illnesses. It engendered hope of a future in which genetic makeup could be the primary factor in determining a person’s care. Researchers could make endless shapes out of a sandbox of data that was blind to race—that problematic and omnipresent variable in the biomedical sphere.

But it is not a simple thing to scrub race from human tissue samples or from the minds of the experts seeking answers, and it remains stubbornly inextricable from genetic research. Investigating the history, intricacies, and implications of this is Dr. Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, a medical anthropologist and senior research scholar at the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University, who has been studying the role of race in genomic science since the late 1990s. One of her principal interests is biobanks—the various repositories of samples that scientists turn to to test their hypotheses. She identifies them as chronicles of society’s evolving efforts to distinguish between groups; the sorting and labeling of their contents are a collision of the biological and the sociopolitical. The result is the physical matter of thousands upon thousands of individuals demarcated by an inconsistent jumble of terms such as “nationality,” “ethnicity,” and “skin color.”.

In her 2015 paper “The Biobank as Political Artifact: The Struggle Over Race in Categorizing Genetic Difference,” published in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Dr. Lee is forthright about the dangers of genetic studies built around samples identified by race. “The unqualified racial labeling of DNA that strips genes of the social context and experience of those who have donated these materials,” she writes, “allows for a pendulum shift in scientific discourse that racializes genes.” Race can end up standing in for factors, such as diet and environment, that go unaccounted for in gene-focused studies. The subsequent findings can then trickle down to affect how we explain differences in disease burden, create health policy, and progress toward eliminating health disparities between populations. With the term “precision medicine” on the rise, referring to a care model that translates insights around genetic variation into clinical practice, the need to inspect and augment how those insights come about has grown more urgent…

Read the entire article here.

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