Is genetic testing a new national obsession?

By Andrew Bard Epstein
NBn: New Books in Native American Studies

tallbear_native coverIs genetic testing a new national obsession? From reality TV shows to the wild proliferation of home testing kits, there’s ample evidence it might just be. And among the most popular tests of all is for so-called “Native American DNA.”

All of this rests upon some uninterrogated (and potentially destructive) assumptions about race and human “origins,” however. In Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science (University of Minnesota Press, 2013), Kim TallBear asks what’s at stake for Indigenous communities and First Nations when the premises of this ascendant science are put into practice.

TallBear, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas-Austin and enrolled Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, conducted years of research on the politics of “human genome diversity,” decoding the rhetoric of scientists, for-profit companies, and public consumers. The result is a vital and provocative work, tracing lineages between racial science and genetic testing, “blood talk” and “DNA talk,” and the undemocratic culture of a field which claims it can deliver us from racism.

Listen to the interview here.

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