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The Social Life of DNA by Alondra Nelson
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The Social Life of DNA

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The Social Life of DNA by Alondra Nelson
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Sep 20, 2016 | ISBN 9780807027189

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    Sep 20, 2016 | ISBN 9780807027189

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“Meticulously detailed. Nelson adds another chapter to the somber history of injustice toward African-Americans, but it is one in which science is enriching lives by forging new identities and connections to ancestral homelands.”
Kirkus Reviews

The Social Life of DNA is an important contribution to many literatures and will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for academic and public discussion of the intertwined relationships among race, science, and policy in the coming years.”
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

“One of this generation’s most gifted scholars examines the unfolding mysteries of DNA sequencing and the limits and promises of genetic genealogy at the intersection of race, politics and identity. Alondra Nelson brilliantly guides us on a journey of discovery in this cautionary tale of the high-stakes efforts to reconcile our racial origins and to find redemption as a country. Eye-opening, provocative and deeply humane.”
—Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns

“Alondra Nelson takes us into a complex and endlessly fascinating space where genetic ancestry testing meets racial politics. With her unique and wonderful gifts for research and insight into genetic science, ethnography and history, The Social Life of DNA comes at a moment when the questions it raises about race and social justice couldn’t be more pressing and urgent.”
—Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“Nelson explores this large, sprawling, fascinating subject with clarity, passion, rigor, and a keen eye for revealing detail. The Social Life of DNA will appeal to a broad readership interested in history, race, and science. Geneticists, sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and jurists will be stimulated by reading this book. It is a brilliant work.”
—Randall Kennedy, Michael R. Klein Professor at Harvard Law School and author of The Persistence of the Color Line 

“Alondra Nelson tells a story for anyone interested in their own family, even their own memory. Using fresh genetics research and writing like an investigative reporter, Nelson clears up the mystery about our society’s rush to DNA.”
—Edward Ball, author of Slaves in the Family

The Social Life of DNA is a brilliant ethnography of the recreational uses of DNA…Timely and original, this book offers a nuanced and engrossing negotiation between genetic truth and ‘truthiness.’”
—Patricia J. Williams, James L. Dohr Professor of Law at Columbia University and columnist for The Nation

“‘The double helix now lies at the center of some of the most significant issues of our time,’ Alondra Nelson writes in this valuable and illuminating book. Since 2003, she has been following the ways that DNA intertwines with race, and The Social Life of DNA is her clear-eyed, sharp, and closely observed account of the phenomenon. It couldn’t be more timely.”
—Jonathan Weiner, Maxwell M. Geffen Professor of Medical and Scientific Journalism at Columbia Journalism School

“Alondra Nelson’s account of how genetic data was transformed into contested political culture is a lucid as it is path-breaking. This exhilarating survey of how DNA became an agent in the politics of reparation and reconciliation has not only extended analysis of race and racism but created a new field of comparative research.”
—Paul Gilroy, professor of American and English literature, King’s College, London

Table Of Contents



ONE: Reconciliation Projects

TWO: Ground Work

THREE: Game Changer

FOUR: The Pursuit of African Ancestry

FIVE: Roots Revelations

SIX: Acts of Reparations

SEVEN: The Rosa Parks of the Reparations Litigation Movement

EIGHT: DNA Diasporas

NINE: Racial Politics After the Genome




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