This workshop examines the socio-cultural meaning of ancestry in population and medical genetics and how uncertainty and potentiality are positioned across diverse areas of scientific engagement in national/transnational contexts with implications for identity, public health, history and nationhood.
The last ten years has seen an explosion of scientific interest in population genetics linked to both understanding histories of human migration and the way that population difference and diversity may account for and be implicated in health differentials. Ancestry has taken centre stage here as a site where knowing the past or understanding and intervening in future health risk is being actively pursued across the global transnational space of genomics. At the same time the promise of 'personal medicine' and the rapidly expanding business of commercial ancestry testing resituates questions of individual as well as collective identity. Ethnographic studies across a diverse range of cultural arenas are beginning to reveal the way that articulating genetic ancestry in pursuit of public health, personal medicine, historical or anthropological knowledge or in the understanding of ancestral origins, raises new questions, concerns and ambivalences for issues of race/ethnicity, nationhood, history and risk that demand careful and detailed anthropological engagement. This panel calls for papers that can elucidate the emerging space and shape of genetic ancestry and the ways that uncertainty and potentiality are being positioned across diverse spaces of scientific engagement in national and transnational contexts. Of particular interest are papers that can bring comparative perspectives to these questions that may include but also engage with the way these issues are being configured from outside of a Euro-American context.