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Bioarchaeology, Genetics and IP Working Group

Co-Chairs: Daryl Pullman (Memorial University), Alan Goodman (Hampshire College) and Dorothy Lippert (Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History)

Intellectual Property +DNA (G. Nicholas image)At the interface between genetics and culture, what happens when data are contradictory? — this group is exploring such issues, as well as how genetic and biological data are being used to claim cultural relationships and affiliations. In settling issues over sovereignty, or rights to land, material objects, and intellectual property, are genetic data being given more credence than oral tradition? Other topics include the use of genetics in such contemporary affiliation and property debates, and in other areas including the use of an individual’s genetics, the use of personal medicine which targets an individual’s genetic profile, and the risk of a group to a specific disease. Collaborative theoretical studies may seek to understand the current theory and practice of the use of genetic and biological data in repatriation cases; define key terms in biology and genetics to ensure that these data sets are not taken at their face values without exploring the complex range of readings they may be open to; and explore issues posed by the rapidly increasing availability of genetic information. The Working Group is also examining specific issues involved in having access to data on the potential disease risk of a community, in using genetic data to claim material objects, and in collecting and using genetic information from Indigenous peoples.

Activities and Output:

  • Panel discussion on “Implications of the Genographic Project for Archaeology,” held at the 2008 Chacmool conference, organized by George Nicholas and Julie Hollowell. Panelists included team members Daryl Pullman, Sheila Greer, and Dongya Yang;
  • Presentation in the Research Ethics session organized by collaborator Murielle Nagy at the Inuit Studies conference in November 2010, since published in a special issue of Inuit Studies.


Other Publications:

Hollowell, J. and G. Nicholas (editors). 2009. Decoding Implications of the Genographic Project for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage. International Journal of Cultural Property 16(2): 141–181. Includes the transcript of a panel discussion that features D. Pullman, S. Greer, and D. Yang.

Nicholas, G., J. Jules and C. Dan. 2008. Moving Beyond Kennewick: Other Native American Perspectives on Bioarchaeological Data and Intellectual Property Rights. In Kennewick Man: Perspectives on the Ancient One, edited by H. Burke, et al., pp. 233–243. Left Coast Press.


More from the Bioarchaeology, Genetics and IP Working Group:

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