Journal of the History of Biology 41 (3):473-528 (2008)

Authors
Abstract
In the advertising discourse of human genetic database projects, of genetic ancestry tracing companies, and in popular books on anthropological genetics, what I refer to as the anthropological gene and genome appear as documents of human history, by far surpassing the written record and oral history in scope and accuracy as archives of our past. How did macromolecules become "documents of human evolutionary history"? Historically, molecular anthropology, a term introduced by Emile Zuckerkandl in 1962 to characterize the study of primate phylogeny and human evolution on the molecular level, asserted its claim to the privilege of interpretation regarding hominoid, hominid, and human phylogeny and evolution vis-à-vis other historical sciences such as evolutionary biology, physical anthropology, and paleoanthropology. This process will be discussed on the basis of three key conferences on primate classification and evolution that brought together exponents of the respective fields and that were held in approximately ten-years intervals between the early 1960s and the 1980s. I show how the anthropological gene and genome gained their status as the most fundamental, clean, and direct records of historical information, and how the prioritizing of these epistemic objects was part of a complex involving the objectivity of numbers, logic, and mathematics, the objectivity of machines and instruments, and the objectivity seen to reside in the epistemic objects themselves.
Keywords the history of molecular anthropology  the molecularization of anthropology  human population genetics  human genetic diversity projects  genetic ancestry tracing  paleoanthropology  physical anthropology  evolutionary biology  the anthropological gene  anthropological DNA  the anthropological genome  the political and epistemic values of the classical molecular gene  genetic determinism  molecular clock  human phylogeny  human evolution  human history  human origin  origin stories  primate phylogeny  primate evolution  animal-human boundary  hyman `races'  scientific conferences  Burg Wartenstein symposia  Emile Zuckerkandl  Linus Pauling  Morris Goodman  Vincent Sarich  Allan Wilson  Rebecca Cann  Mark Stoneking  Sherwood Washburn  George Gaylord Simpson  Theodosius Dobzhansky  Ernst Mayr  Milford Wolpoff
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10739-008-9150-3
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,160
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Century of the Gene.Evelyn Fox Keller - 2001 - Journal of the History of Biology 34 (3):613-615.
How Biologists Conceptualize Genes: An Empirical Study.Karola Stotz, Paul E. Griffiths & Rob Knight - 2004 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 35 (4):647-673.
The Origins of the Neutral Theory of Molecular Evolution.Michael R. Dietrich - 1994 - Journal of the History of Biology 27 (1):21-59.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

“Geographical Distribution Patterns of Various Genes”: Genetic Studies of Human Variation After 1945.Veronika Lipphardt - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 47:50-61.
The Long and Winding Road of Molecular Data in Phylogenetic Analysis.Edna Suárez-Díaz - 2014 - Journal of the History of Biology 47 (3):443-478.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Molecular Epigenesis, Molecular Pleiotropy, and Molecular Gene Definitions.Richard Burian - 2004 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 26 (1):59 - 80.
Genes Made Molecular.C. Kenneth Waters - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (2):163-185.
National Politics and International Trends: EMBO and the Making of Molecular Biology in Spain (1960-1975).J. M. - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (3):473-487.
National Politics and International Trends: EMBO and the Making of Molecular Biology in Spain (1960–1975).María Jesús Santesmases - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (3):473-487.
The Referential Convergence of Gene Concepts Based on Classical and Molecular Analyses.Tudor M. Baetu - 2010 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24 (4):411-427.
Are Genes Units of Inheritance?Thomas Fogle - 1990 - Biology and Philosophy 5 (3):349-371.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-05-29

Total views
37 ( #305,026 of 2,499,436 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #418,166 of 2,499,436 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes