“The Map of the Mexican’s Genome”: overlapping national identity, and population genomics [Book Review]

Ernesto Schwartz
University of Manchester
This paper explores the intersections between national identity and the production of medical/population genomics in Mexico. The ongoing efforts to construct a Haplotype Map of Mexican genetic diversity offers a unique opportunity to illustrate and analyze the exchange between the historic-political narratives of nationalism, and the material culture of genomic science. Haplotypes are central actants in the search for medically significant SNP’s, as well as powerful entities involved in the delimitation of ancestry, temporality and variability. By following the circulation of Haplotypes, light is shed on the alignments and discordances between socio-historical and bio-molecular mappings. The analysis is centred on the comparison between the genomic construction of time and ethnicity in the laboratory, and on the public mobilisation of a “Mexican Genome” and its wider political implications. Even though both: the scientific practice and the public discourse on medical/population genomics are traversed by notions of “admixture”, there are important distinctions to be made. In the public realm, the nationalist post-revolutionary ideas of Jose Vasconcelos, as expressed in his Cosmic Race, still hold sway in the social imaginary. In contrast, admixture is treated as a complex, relative and probabilistic notion in laboratory practices. I argue that the relation between medical/population genomics and national identity is better understood as a process of re-articulation, rather than coproduction of social and natural orders. The evolving process of re-articulation conceals the novelty of medical/population genomics, aligning scientific facts in order to fit the temporal and ethnic grids of “Mestizaje”. But it is precisely the social and political work, that matches the emerging field of population genomics to the pre-existing projects of national identity, what is most revealing in order to understand the multiple and even subtle ways in which population genomics challenges the historical and identitarian frames of a “Mestizo” nation.
Keywords Population genomics  Mestizo identity  Haplotypes  Nationalism  Ethnography
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12394-010-0074-7
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,865
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Human Heredity After 1945: Moving Populations Centre Stage.Jenny Bangham & Soraya de Chadarevian - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47:45-49.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Nations Beyond Nationalism.Helder de Schutter - 2007 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):378 – 394.
Racism and Human Genome Diversity Research: The Ethical Limits of "Population Thinking".Lisa Gannett - 2001 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2001 (3):S479-.
Population Genomics and Research Ethics with Socially Identifable Groups.Joan L. McGregor - 2007 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 35 (3):356-370.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
29 ( #220,715 of 2,293,801 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #182,547 of 2,293,801 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature