Race, genomics and mestizaje (mixture) in Latin America: a comparative approach

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Social Sciences

Abstract

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Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We found a strong focus on "the mestizo" (the mixed person) as a key figure in the national genetic panorama. The labs mapped genetic diversity, but this highlighted varying proportions of African, European and Amerindian ancestries among mestizos in different parts of country. People classed as indigenous and Afro-descendants were sampled (although ethical regulation made this increasingly difficult for Amerindians), but the emphasis was on the mestizo, with indigenous and black populations acting as reference points.



The focus on the mestizo entailed an emphasis on the fact that even people who might be considered "white" had significant amounts of African and/or Amerindian ancestry (above all in the mtDNA, inherited only through the maternal line). Yet genetic analysis often highlighted high levels of European ancestry overall among mestizos, and there was some interest in regional populations perceived as distinctive and relatively "white" (Antioqueños in Colombia, gaúchos in Brazil). This was less evident in Mexico, where Amerindian ancestry was quite high in many areas.



This emphasis on (whitened) mixture appears to counter-balance 15-20 years of multiculturalist reform, which has focused on black and indigenous minority rights. One Brazilian geneticist argued publicly against affirmative actions for Afro-Brazilians, on the grounds that racial categorisations have no genetic basis (see Neto and Santos, 2011).



Certain categories were reproduced in the labs. A Mexican geneticist might concede that, after 500 years of interaction, "indigenous" people would likely be "mestizos" in a strictly genetic sense; yet the category Amerindian or indigenous - foundational in concepts of the Mexican nation - continued to be used to design projects and classify samples. Likewise, some populations were designated "African-derived," rather than mestizo, even though genetic analysis highlighted how genetically mixed they were. The key categories that gave meaning to "mestizo" were thus reproduced, but now in genetic idiom.



This practice was also observable in the category race itself. Overall, scientists denied the biological validity of "race", yet categories with clearly racial connotations (European, Amerindian, African) were routinely deployed in genetic analysis - as they are in genomic human diversity research internationally. For Latin America, this is giving a new biological meaning to highly culturalised concepts of race. Links made between racialised genetic ancestry and disease (diabetes, heart problems) reinforced this.



Much research has focused on "race" in genomics, but we found that other categories - region, nation - were equally important. Nation could be more explicit (for example, in Mexico) or less so (when the nation was taken for granted as the relevant unit of analysis). However, the transnational character of genomic science meant other categories, such as "Latin American," might circulate more effectively.



Genetic research highlighted the European ancestry evident in paternal lineages and the Amerindian ancestry in maternal lineages.This supported existing gendered narratives of nation-formation (European men had sex with Amerindian and African women), with a focus on very early colonial encounters.



Another phase of the project, under way, focuses on public engagement with genomic knowledge about diversity and ancestry.
Exploitation Route Genomic mapping is connected to searching for the genetic basis of disorders. Professionals who cross the borders between health research and health provision have been important participants in discussions about race/ethnicity and genetics. These people will be beneficiaries of the research, mainly in the Latin American countries, but also more widely insofar as research into admixed populations has general significance. Dissemination to these audiences will be mainly through the usual channels of academic publication and presentation and through the project workshops and website.



In Mexico, the National Institute of Genomic Medicine will be a key site of research, but also an important user, as members of its staff currently involved in the existing project have shown a strong interest in our work and the Institute itself has a remit of public engagement, with a special unit producing PR and educational materials.



Indigenous people's organisations in Latin America (and elsewhere) have a strong interest in (often in the form of objections to) genomic mapping projects that include indigenous peoples as sample populations. Some Afro-Latin cultural and political activists have also expressed strong opinions about genomic mapping. In Brazil, black activists such as Athayde Motta have made strong statements about the way genomic mapping findings have been interpreted and disseminated by scientists. In Colombia, indigenous organisations are protesting about the re-inscription of racial categories that they perceive in genomic mapping research (as well as about what they see as capitalist "bio-prospecting" of genetic diversity). The views of such organisations and activists will be included in the research itself and networks will be maintained with them, partly via the co-investigators, to keep them apprised of the results of the research, partly through normal academic publication (many organisation leaders are university graduates), but also through more lay-oriented publication (eg, newspapers) and presentations and through the project website.



The media in many countries have thus far taken a strong interest in this type of genomic mapping and what it seems to say about race and nation: the project staff will communicate with national media in each country, as well as with relevant media in the UK, where there has been a good deal of interest in race mixture as a potentially valuable process for race and ethnic relations.



One target of our research is how genomic ancestry science translates into educational settings, typically at university level. However, the basic concept of race mixture as the foundational history of the nation is disseminated in Latin American schools from quite a young age. Depending on levels of access to schools, it planned that educators will form a group of users, who are interested in how scientific knowledge about the nation's ancestry becomes part of school curricula.



Given the importance of DNA testing in forensic investigation (for example, by Colombia's National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences, in the wake of political violence), we will explore whether such bodies would be interested in links between genomics and categories of race, ethnicity and nation.
Sectors Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/social-anthropology/our-research/projects/race-genomics-and-mestizaje/
 
Description Our findings have been the subject of debate and discussion in workshops and public engagement events in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, attended by mixed audiences including acaemics, students, geneticists, members of the press and indigenous and Afro-descendant activists. Our findings have been the subject of press coverage in Mexico.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description British Academy Newton Advanced Fellowship
Amount £48,800 (GBP)
Funding ID AF140103 
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2015 
End 02/2017
 
Description British Academy Wolfson Research Professorship
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Funding ID WP120116 
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2013 
End 12/2016
 
Description Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant
Amount £249,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RPG-044 
Organisation The Leverhulme Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2011 
End 03/2013
 
Description Brazil-Colombia-Mexico Collaboration 
Organisation National Autonomous University of Mexico
Country Mexico 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All partners and my team collaborated equally in the research project and a related further bid to the Leverhulme Trust, and in publications.
Collaborator Contribution All partners collaborated equally in the research project and a related further bid to the Leverhulme Trust, and in publications.
Impact Publications, engagement activities, conference presentations, further funding bids.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Brazil-Colombia-Mexico Collaboration 
Organisation Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz)
Country Brazil 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution All partners and my team collaborated equally in the research project and a related further bid to the Leverhulme Trust, and in publications.
Collaborator Contribution All partners collaborated equally in the research project and a related further bid to the Leverhulme Trust, and in publications.
Impact Publications, engagement activities, conference presentations, further funding bids.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Brazil-Colombia-Mexico Collaboration 
Organisation Pontifical Xavierian University
Country Colombia 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution All partners and my team collaborated equally in the research project and a related further bid to the Leverhulme Trust, and in publications.
Collaborator Contribution All partners collaborated equally in the research project and a related further bid to the Leverhulme Trust, and in publications.
Impact Publications, engagement activities, conference presentations, further funding bids.
Start Year 2010
 
Description "Os Charrus vivem" : a ressurreição indígena extinta no sul de Brasil 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Paper presented at the University of Campinas, 13 March 2012
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description African and indigenous heritage in Latin America : from eugenics, through multiculturalism, to genomics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Keynote address given at 'Afro-Indigenous Cultural Heritage: Current Debates on Origins, Multiculturalism and Consumerism in Latin America', Instituto de Estudios Latinoamericanos, Freie Universität Berlin, 5-6 December 2011
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Article for online magazine The Conversation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Peter Wade was invited to contribute a piece, 'Genetic research fights disease but it can be hijacked by politics', to The Conversation, an online magazine, 24 April
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://theconversation.com/genetic-research-fights-disease-but-it-can-be-hijacked-by-politics-25115
 
Description Articulações entre antropologia física com as ciências biológicas : raça e farmacogenômica no Brasil 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Presented as part of a doctoral course in cultural anthropology directed by Dr. Jean Fronçois-Verán at the Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Sociais, in the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Doutorado em Antropologia Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, 2012.

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Farmacogenômica, pureza e mistura : Um olhar a partir da antropologia da ciência 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Paper presented at III Reunião de Antropologia da Ciência e da Tecnologia, Brasília, Brazil, 29 Sept - 10 Oct, 2011
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Genetic belonging, citizenship and mixed nations in Latin America 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper given at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 7 May.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Genomic re-figurings of race and nation in Latin America 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Abstract This paper reports on some results of an international research project on "Race, genomics and mestizaje (mixture) in Latin America: a comparative approach". It focuses on how race or race-like ideas (such as biogeographical ancestry) get reproduced but also refigured in population genomics in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. Race-like constructs, alongside ideas about nation and region, are fixed in some ways, including some new ways particular to a genomic idiom, but they are also unfixed and destabilised in other ways. I focus on questions of precision in quantification, fractionation, unlimited finity, and depersonalisation and abstraction. I than review how genomic representations of diversity within the nation tally with multiculturalism as it has been embodied in legal and political reforms in these three countries. Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, 7 December.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Genética, mestizaje y nación : miradas desde Brasil, México y Colombia 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Third project workshop in Bogota
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/social-anthropology/our-research/projects/race-g...
 
Description Genética, raça e o debate sobre as ações afirmativas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Lecture given to Secretaria de direitos humanos, Prefeitura de São João de Meriti (Rio de Janeiro). 31 May 2012
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Genética, raça e o debate sobre as ações afirmativas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lecture given to the Movimento Negro Unificado, Porto Alegre. 16 April 2012.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Genética, raça e o debate sobre as ações afirmativas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lecture given at the Faculdade de Pedagogia & Núcleo de Estudos Afro-Brasileiros, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. 16 May 2012.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Genética, raça e o debate sobre as ações afirmativas 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk given at Educafro, a Brazilian NGO that works with affirmative action educational programmes (http://www.educafro.org.br/)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description La importancia de ser Uros : movimientos indígenas, políticas de identidad y genética 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Opening lecture of the new academic year. Faculty of Social Sciences, Universidad Nacional del Altiplano, Peru. 1 March 2011.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Laboratory life of the Mexican mestizo 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Paper given at "Biohistories: Biological markers and human populations in historical context", workshop organized by The UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, University of California at Los Angeles, May 4, 2012
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Perspectivas sobre genómica y poblaciones mestizas en América Latina 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Second project workshop, Mexico
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/social-anthropology/our-research/projects/race-g...
 
Description Pesquisas sobre diversidade biológica humana e construção da identidade nacional brasileira a partir do século XIX 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lecture given as part of celebration of 22nd anniversary of IPATIMUP (Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular) of the University of Porto, in recognition of 22 years of collaboration between IPATIMUP and Brazilian scientists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Proyecto : Raza, genómica y mestizaje en Latino América 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk given at event organised by La Trayectoria de Estudios Multiculturales, at the Universidad de la Cienaga del Estado de Michoacan, Mexico
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Públicos latinoamericanos ante sus retratos genómicos 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Public event within two-day project workshop. This was a public dissemination event, to relay our project findings to a general audience of academics, genetic scientists, students, the press and members of the public. Held at the Instituto de Investigaciones Filosoficas, Universidad Autonoma Nacional de Mexico, 19 April 2012.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Race, genomics and mestizaje (mixture) in Latin America : a comparative approach 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Project final symposium, Manchester. The team members gave papers, detailing the results of their investigations and a number of invited guest speakers presented aspects of their own work and acting as discussants of the project team presentations. Invited participants include
Amade M'Charek (University of Amsterdam), Andrew Smart (University of Bath), Francisco Vergara Silva (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico), Gisli Palsson (University of Iceland), Susan Lindee (University of Pennsylvania), Jenny Reardon (University of California at Santa Cruz). A number of other scholars and students from around the UK also attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/social-anthropology/our-research/projects/race-g...
 
Description Race, genomics and mestizaje (mixture) in Latin America : a comparative approach 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Paper given in Social Anthropology seminar series, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester

None to report
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Race, genomics and mixture in Latin America : a comparative approach 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation given as part of research away-day on Wellcome Trust strategic programme on the human body, its scope, limits and future, Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation (iSEI), University of Manchester
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Race, nation, mestizaje and genomics in Latin America 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Seminar at Durham University, 9 November 2011, attended by peers and postgraduate students, with discussion.

None to report
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Raza, genomica y mestizaje en Latinoamerica 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk given to academic and non-academic public at the Universidad del Papaloapan (UNPA), Tuxtepec, Mexico, as part of a visit by the Mexican team to conduct focus group data collection. 13 January 2012.

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Raça, genômica e mestiçagem na América Latina : uma abordagem comparativa 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact First project workshop, in Rio de Janeiro
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/subjects/social-anthropology/our-research/projects/race-g...
 
Description The "Indo" and the "Afro" in Brazilian and Latin American genomics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Paper given at the colloquium on 'Erecting and Erasing Boundaries: A Conversation about Brazilian and Latin American Studies', Institute of Latin American Studies, Columbia University, 2 November 2012
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The importance of being Uros : indigenous movements, identity politics and genetics in the Peruvian Andes 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Department of Anthropology seminar series, University of Aberdeen
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.abdn.ac.uk/anthropology/seminar/index.php
 
Description [Un]marked bodies and invisible subjects in the coverage of human genetics in Colombian mass media 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Paper presented in the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) annual meeting. Cleveland 2-5 November 2011. Session on "Technologies of Health Care in Latin America".

Section not completed
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011