AAA Annual Meeting Program
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AAA Annual Meeting Program Details


Session Information:
Program Number: 3-142
Type: Invited Session
Session Title: CONSUMING GENOMICS: ANTHROPOLOGY AT THE CROSSROADS
Session Sponsor: AAA Presidential Session
Session Date/Time: Sat., 1:45 PM-5:30 PM
Organizer(s): DEBORAH BOLNICK (University of Texas at Austin), JOANNA RADIN (University of Pennsylvania) 
Chair(s): DEBORAH BOLNICK (University of Texas at Austin), JOANNA RADIN (University of Pennsylvania) 
Participants:  
1:45 PM: DEBORAH BOLNICK (University of Texas at Austin) -- Commercial Genetic Ancestry Testing as a Window into Anthropological Pasts, Presents, and Futures  
2:00 PM: JOANNA RADIN (University of Pennsylvania) -- Counseling Kinship: Genetic Genealogists and the Negotiation of Non-Paternity  
2:15 PM: RIPAN MALHI -- Viewpoint on DNA tests for Native American ancestry from private business and academia  
2:30 PM: CATHERINE BLISS (Brown University) -- Genomic Intersections with Race: The Invention and Expansion of an Ancestry Estimation Technology  
2:45 PM: GISLI PALSSON (Iceland) -- PERSONAL GENOMICS: deCODE, ICELAND, AND BEYOND  
3:00 PM: DISCUSSANT: JONATHAN MARKS (UNC-Charlotte)  
3:15 PM: DISCUSSION  
3:30 PM: BREAK  
3:45 PM: RICK KITTLES (University of Chicago) -- Inferring the ancestry of African Americans: Science and Cynicism  
4:00 PM: MICHAEL FORTUN (Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst) -- WHAT GENOMICS COMPANIES EAT  
4:15 PM: JONATHAN KAHN (Hamline University Law School) -- The Power of Race as a Residual Category in Pharmacogenomic Product Development and Marketing  
4:30 PM: ALONDRA NELSON (Yale University) -- Thresholds and Seams: Rethinking the Boundaries of Genetic Testing  
4:45 PM: OSAGIE OBASOGIE (UC Hastings College of Law) -- Regulatory Approaches to Genetic Ancestry Tests: Towards Race Impact Assessments  
5:00 PM: DISCUSSANT: SUSAN LINDEE (University of Pennsylvania )  
5:15 PM: DISCUSSION  
5:30 PM: End of Session
Abstract: For the last decade, consumers have been able to purchase an increasingly wide array of genetic tests that promise answers to medical, genealogical, and forensic questions. These commercial genomic enterprises have their roots in scientific endeavors ranging from molecular anthropology to pharmacogenetics to informatics, and they are intersecting with public understandings of race, individual and group identity construction, medical treatments, and forensic investigations in intriguing ways. Moreover, they show that the “DNA mystique” has persisted as a powerful stimulus for both scientific imaginations and the market in the post-Human Genome Project era. However, as the multi-million dollar direct-to-consumer genomics industry continues to gain momentum and publicity, so do the complex issues it raises. There is an urgent need for interdisciplinary dialogue about the origins and contours of the market for such information. Collaboration among cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, and other social scientists is needed to assess (1) the social and cultural dimensions of this phenomenon, (2) the ways that genomic projects are both shaped by and shaping market forces, (3) the political economy of genomic information in a global context, and (4) the implications for the future of our discipline.

This panel will bring together a diverse set of scholars to consider the commercial dimensions and public consumption of genomics. In addition to the issues described above, we will explore the ways that commercial genomic services refigure ideas about race, kinship, identity, and citizenship, pose challenges to normative ethical (and regulatory) paradigms for biotechnology, and hold implications for university-industry relations. This panel will therefore enrich current understandings of the genomics market and its relation to anthropology. We hope this session will help to delineate novel and interdisciplinary avenues for future research that is also legible to policy makers, industry leaders, and the publics engaged by this commercial scientific phenomenon.


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