Genetics and Nation-Building in the Middle East


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Episode 324

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Genetics have emerged as a new scientific tool for studying human ancestry and historical migration. And as research into the history of genetics demonstrates, genetics and other bioscientific approaches to studying ancestry were also integral to the transformation of the very national and racial categories through which ancestry has come to be described over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. In this podcast, we speak to Elise Burton about her research on the development of human genetics in the Middle East. Burton has studied the history of genetics within a comparative framework, examining the interrelated cases of human genetics research in Turkey, Israel, Iran, and elsewhere. In this episode, we focus in particular on the history of genetics in Turkey and its relationship to changing understandings of nation and race within the early Republic. In a bonus segment (see below), we also look under the hood of commercial genetic ancestry tests to understand present-day science within the context of these historical developments.

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