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Ouvrages Année : 2012

Biomapping indigenous peoples : towards an understanding of the issues


Where do our distant ancestors come from, and which routes did they travel around the globe as hunter–gatherers in prehistoric times? Genomics provides a fascinating insight into these questions and unlocks a mass of information carried by strands of DNA in each cell of the human body. For Indigenous peoples, scientific research of any kind evokes past – and not forgotten – suffering, racial and racist taxonomy, and, finally, dispossession. Survival of human cell lines outside the body clashes with traditional beliefs, as does the notion that DNA may tell a story different from their own creation story. Extracting and analysing DNA is a new science, barely a few decades old. In the medical field, it carries the promise of genetically adapted health-care. However, if this is to be done, genetic identity has to be defined first. While a narrow genetic definition might be usable by medical science, it does not do justice to Indigenous peoples’ cultural identity and raises the question of governmental benefits where their genetic identity is not strong enough. People migrate and intermix, and have always done so. Genomics trace the genes but not the cultures. Cultural survival – or revival – and Indigenous group cohesion are unrelated to DNA, explaining why Indigenous leaders adamantly refuse genetic testing. This book deals with the issues surrounding ‘biomapping’ the Indigenous, seen from the viewpoints of discourse analysts, historians, lawyers, anthropologists, sociologists, museum curators, health-care specialists, and Native researchers.
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Dates et versions

hal-00968334 , version 1 (31-03-2014)



Susanne Berthier-Foglar, Sheila Collingwood-Whittick, Sandrine Tolazzi (Dir.). Biomapping indigenous peoples : towards an understanding of the issues. Rodopi, pp.461, 2012, 978-90-420-3591-1. ⟨10.1163/9789401208666⟩. ⟨hal-00968334⟩
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