front cover of Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom
Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom
Genomics, Multiculturalism, and Race in Latin America
Peter Wade
Duke University Press, 2017
Race mixture, or mestizaje, has played a critical role in the history, culture, and politics of Latin America. In Degrees of Mixture, Degrees of Freedom, Peter Wade draws on a multidisciplinary research study in Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. He shows how Latin American elites and outside observers have emphasized mixture's democratizing potential, depicting it as a useful resource for addressing problems of racism (claiming that race mixture undoes racial difference and hierarchy), while Latin American scientists participate in this narrative with claims that genetic studies of mestizos can help isolate genetic contributors to diabetes and obesity and improve health for all. Wade argues that, in the process, genomics produces biologized versions of racialized difference within the nation and the region, but a comparative approach nuances the simple idea that highly racialized societies give rise to highly racialized genomics. Wade examines the tensions between mixture and purity, and between equality and hierarchy in liberal political orders, exploring how ideas and scientific data about genetic mixture are produced and circulate through complex networks.

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Entering America
Northeast Asia and Beringia Before the Last Glacial Maximum
David B. Madsen
University of Utah Press, 2004

Where did the first Americans come from and when did they get here? That basic question of American archaeology, long thought to have been solved, is re-emerging as a critical issue as the number of well-excavated sites dating to pre-Clovis times increases. It now seems possible that small populations of human foragers entered the Americas prior to the creation of the continental glacial barrier. While the archaeological and paleoecological aspects of a post-glacial entry have been well studied, there is little work available on the possibility of a pre-glacial entry.

Entering America seeks to fill that void by providing the most up-to-date information on the nature of environmental and cultural conditions in northeast Asia and Beringia (the Bering land bridge) immediately prior to the Last Glacial Maximum. Because the peopling of the New World is a question of international archaeological interest, this volume will be important to specialists and nonspecialists alike.


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Genetics and the Unsettled Past
The Collision of DNA, Race, and History
Wailoo, Keith
Rutgers University Press, 2012

Our genetic markers have come to be regarded as portals to the past. Analysis of these markers is increasingly used to tell the story of human migration; to investigate and judge issues of social membership and kinship; to rewrite history and collective memory; to right past wrongs and to arbitrate legal claims and human rights controversies; and to open new thinking about health and well-being. At the same time, in many societies genetic evidence is being called upon to perform a kind of racially charged cultural work: to repair the racial past and to transform scholarly and popular opinion about the “nature” of identity in the present.

Genetics and the Unsettled Past considers the alignment of genetic science with commercial genealogy, with legal and forensic developments, and with pharmaceutical innovation to examine how these trends lend renewed authority to biological understandings of race and history.

This unique collection brings together scholars from a wide range of disciplines—biology, history, cultural studies, law, medicine, anthropology, ethnic studies, sociology—to explore the emerging and often contested connections among race, DNA, and history. Written for a general audience, the book’s essays touch upon a variety of topics, including the rise and implications of DNA in genealogy, law, and other fields; the cultural and political uses and misuses of genetic information; the way in which DNA testing is reshaping understandings of group identity for French Canadians, Native Americans, South Africans, and many others within and across cultural and national boundaries; and the sweeping implications of genetics for society today.


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Patterns of Human Variation
The Demography, Genetics, and Phenetics of Bougainville Islanders
Jonathan S. Friedlaender
Harvard University Press, 1975

This uniquely comprehensive study analyzes genetic and cultural variation in a human population of extraordinary diversity. The author measures the relationship between patterns of biological and patterns of cultural variation as a way to test the contribution made by natural selection to genetic variability. If linguistic similarity and migration history serve to predict biological patterns, support is provided for the hypothesis that forces other than natural selection are responsible for the diversity observed.

The data for this study come from a group of eighteen villages located in eight neighboring language areas that are clustered in a small region of Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. Biological and anthropological data are analyzed with a battery of sophisticated statistical and taxonomic methods: multiple discriminant analyses, principal coordinates analyses, principal components analyses, and Gower's R2 comparison. Diverse biological properties of the Bougainville Islanders prove to be closely related to their patterns of migration. Although this result in no way refutes the role of natural selection in the evolutionary process, it highlights the extent to which genetic diversity can be molded, at least in human populations, by nonselective events.


front cover of Why Some Like It Hot
Why Some Like It Hot
Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity
Gary Paul Nabhan
Island Press, 2004

Do your ears burn whenever you eat hot chile peppers? Does your face immediately flush when you drink alcohol? Does your stomach groan if you are exposed to raw milk or green fava beans? If so, you are probably among the one-third of the world's human population that is sensitive to certain foods due to your genes' interactions with them.

Formerly misunderstood as "genetic disorders," many of these sensitivities are now considered to be adaptations that our ancestors evolved in response to the dietary choices and diseases they faced over millennia in particular landscapes. They are liabilities only when we are "out of place," on globalized diets depleted of certain chemicals that triggered adaptive responses in our ancestors.

In Why Some Like It Hot, an award-winning natural historian takes us on a culinary odyssey to solve the puzzles posed by "the ghosts of evolution" hidden within every culture and its traditional cuisine. As we travel with Nabhan from Java and Bali to Crete and Sardinia, to Hawaii and Mexico, we learn how various ethnic cuisines formerly protected their traditional consumers from both infectious and nutrition-related diseases. We also bear witness to the tragic consequences of the loss of traditional foods, from adult-onset diabetes running rampant among 100 million indigenous peoples to the historic rise in heart disease among individuals of northern European descent.

In this, the most insightful and far-reaching book of his career, Nabhan offers us a view of genes, diets, ethnicity, and place that will forever change the way we understand human health and cultural diversity. This book marks the dawning of evolutionary gastronomy in a way that may save and enrich millions of lives.


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