ToPHSS Lecture: Whose blood, which genes? Narratives and sampling strategies in Roma-related genetic research

Open to the Public
Zrinyi u. 14
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 1:30pm
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Tuesday, February 2, 2016 - 1:30pm to 3:10pm
The grouping of Roma in a homogenous category has a long history. I argue that shaping and stabilizing Roma groupness is the result of the interrelated practices of categorization and counting, both important ways in assembling an object of study but also a target for governmental intervention. I bring examples of how repeated academic, administrative and police-led inquires contributed to enduring representations of the Roma group in different  political regimes. My presentation aims to demonstrate that framing Roma as a genetic isolate relies on biohistorical narratives and classificatory practices that cross over disciplinary fields and contributes to the reification of Roma ethnicity. The  focus is on the re-emergence of genetic studies on Roma during the last 25 years. Making up samples and selecting genetic markers enacted the technologies of difference and reinforced the division between Roma and non-Roma. By a close reading of genetic literature I analyze how the main narratives about Roma were imported from social sciences and public discourse, and how genetic research contributes to shape a Roma identity along biological lines.

ToPHSS Lectures are part of the project “Topics in the Philosophy of the Human and Social Sciences”, funded by the Humanities Initiative. The project aims to cross boundaries between disciplines of the humanities and social sciences concerned with ‘the human’, that is with human beings, humanity, society, culture, history, and more. It focuses on methodological and ontological issues, in particular on those concerned with contested categories of the humanities and social sciences, and of those primarily on the categories of human, individual and person. This term the first focus is on the contested divide between nature and culture.