TALK: “Reconciliation Projects: The Vexed Racial Politics of Genetics Ancestry Testing,” with Alondra Nelson (Sociology, Columbia University)

We know DNA is a master key that unlocks medical and forensic secrets, but its genealogical life is both revelatory and endlessly fascinating. In this lecture, Alondra Nelson will explain how these cutting-edge DNA-based genealogical techniques are being used racial politics in myriad ways to grapple with the afterlife of racial slavery: to foster reconciliation, to establish ties with African ancestral homelands, to rethink and sometimes alter citizenship, and to make legal claims for reparations specifically based on ancestry. These reconciliation projects are cast against a historical backdrop of scientific racism and the myth of biological race as well as a contemporary politics of DNA-driven inequality in the criminal justice system. Nelson shows that DNA is a portal to the past that yields insight for the present and future, shining a light on social traumas and historical injustices that still resonate today. Science can be a crucial ally to activism to spur social change and transform twenty-first-century racial politics. But Nelson warns that the social repair we seek cannot be found in even the most sophisticated science.

Thursday September 14, 2017 07:00 PM
Thursday September 14, 2017 08:30 PM
Neal Marshall Grand Hall
Michelle Moyd, Interim Director, Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES)
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This event is part of Themester 2017 Diversity • Difference • Otherness.
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