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History WithinThe Science, Culture, and Politics of Bones, Organisms, and Molecules$
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Marianne Sommer

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226347325

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226349879.001.0001

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The Genographic Network

The Genographic Network

Science, Markets, and Genetic Narratives

(p.331) Chapter Fourteen The Genographic Network
History Within

Marianne Sommer

University of Chicago Press

Continuing the developments of the preceding chapters, this one engages with the novel constellations of science, markets and identity politics. The role of databanks and the internet is discussed for the global nature of these networks. However, symbolized by the term genographic network, it is shown that in the case of human population genetics, these networks are glocalized structures. The Genographic Project has a commercial branch that sells direct-to-customer genetic ancestry tests. Through this genetic-ancestry tracing branch, it is connected to other companies in the US and Switzerland. All of these make profit from the novel genetic technologies and the mtDNA and Y-chromosomal systems. But they also offer tests that are customized to their particular clientele: American Jews, African Americans, and Europeans respectively. It is shown how for human population genetic data to be meaningful for customers, it has to travel with images and narratives. Such sense-generating narratives are popularized in books and films, and they raise issues of similarity and difference, of ‘tribal, ethnic, racial, etc. affiliation’.

Keywords:   Luigi-Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Spencer Wells, genographic network, genographic project, genetic ancestry tracing, commercialization, popularization, narrative, film, genetic determinism

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