Social Anthropology Seminar - Monday, 27TH April 2015 - Dr Katharine Tyler – University of Exeter - Scientific reality or genetic astrology?
|Dates:||27 April 2015|
|Times:||15:00 - 17:00|
|What is it:||Seminar|
|Organiser:||School of Social Sciences|
|Speaker:||Dr Katharine Tyler|
Social Anthropology Seminar
Monday, 27th April 2015
Dr Katharine Tyler – University of Exeter
Scientific reality or genetic astrology?
Laypeople’s perspectives on the role of genetic ancestry tests in imagining the ‘indigenous’ past and ‘multicultural’ constitution of Britishness.
Population geneticists have argued that innovations in genetic science show that the DNA contained in a swab of saliva provides information on the genetic identities of the subject’s ancestors. The potentiality of such technologies has led to genetic ancestry tests becoming a commodity marketed to the public, including individuals interested in tracing their ethnic, racial and national identities. In the wake of the commercialisation of these technologies, I shall explore how lay Britons engage with the possibilities supposedly offered by these tests for imagining the genealogical constitution of their own, their families’ and the nation’s ethnic, racial and national identities. To do this I pay detailed critical attention to white and BrAsian (‘British Asian’) people’s responses to television and newsprint media representations of the possibilities offered by genetic ancestry testing.
By juxtaposing white and BrAsian responses to media portrayals of this technology I do not mean to suggest that my account is representative of BrAsian and white views. Clearly, such a claim would problematically interpret individuals’ narratives through an essentialist and politically regressive model of ethnic and racial difference. Rather, my focus on white perspectives enables me to explore how laypeople deploy the logic of indigeneity that associates British ancestry with ancient white European pasts, to interpret the implications of these tests. My contention is that the language of indigeneity in these accounts combines with a rejection of multicultural principles and a firm belief in the rationality and truth of ‘proper’ science to support nationalist and racist attitudes and beliefs. Conversely, my focus on BrAsian individuals’ reflections illustrates how engagements with media portrayals of these tests provides some individuals, at least, with the conditions to articulate views on the meaning of race, nation, ancestry and science that turn majority discourses of whiteness, indigeneity and multiculturalism upside down and back to front.
Second Floor Boardroom, Arthur Lewis Building
3:15 – 5:00pm
(Tea and coffee available outside the room from 3:00pm)
Dr Katharine Tyler
Organisation: University of Exeter
Travel and Contact Information
2nd Floor, Boardroom, 2.016 / 2.017, Arthur Lewis Building
Arthur Lewis Building