Kim TallBear: Native American DNA: Tribal belonging and the false promise of genetic science

This book looks very interesting. I had a chance to listen to Kim TallBear last fall and have been  looking forward to this book. Here is the publisher’s description and, below, a talk by the author on a slightly different, though connected topic. Listen to an interview with Kim TallBear talk about the book here.

Kim TallBear’s new book transcends academic disciplines. Bringing together STS, Native American and Indigenous Studies, histories of science and race, ethnography, and cultural studies, Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science (University of Minnesota Press, 2013) traces a genealogy of “Native American DNA” as an object, an instrument, and an idea. Gripping and important on many levels, TallBear’s book situates the emergence of genetic notions of racial and tribal identity within broader histories and debates over notions of blood, race, and tribe; within a history and ethnography of DNA profiling from the perspective of both DNA-testing companies and the consumers of “genetic genealogy;” and within a study of the business of genetic research as manifest in the “Genographic Project.” TallBear’s book closes by offering specific, concrete ideas for more productively engaging genetic science and native peoples in the future. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the co-production of technoscience and identity in the modern world.


  1. enjoyed the interview and the approach reminded me in good ways of Rabinow and co. but not so sure that political powers/actors and their corporate-science counterparts care so much if what they are doing matches their justifying rhetoric about why they are doing it, maybe it matters more if the people being represented care enough either way to make their voices/votes heard/count.


  1. […] A Feminist-Indigenous Reading of Cryopreservation Practices and Ethics. Her lecture examines cryopreservation, as a scientific endeavor that, according to TallBear, “enables storage and preservation of bio-specimens “including those taken from indigenous peoples” bodies, often within earlier ethical and racial regimes” into times and spaces beyond those inhabited by the (once) living bodies.” She investigates the ethical concerns that indigenous critics find with bioscience methodologies utilized by non-indigenous institutions. Â She proposes “that indigenous responses to cryopreservation technologies and practices can be more fully understood not simply by recourse to “bioethics,” but also by weaving together the approaches of indigenous thinkers historically with newer thinking in indigenous studies, feminist science studies, critical animal studies, and the new materialisms.” via… […]

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