Bioarchaeology and Genetics Working Group Receives SSHRC Grant

Apr 24, 2015

The Bioarchaeology and Genetics Working Group has received a $20,000 SSHRC Connections grant to help support the “Exploring the (Re)- Construction of Identity at the Interface of Biology, Genetics, and Culture” public symposium and workshop that will be held this coming October. The proposal was prepared by George Nicholas, Alexa Walker, Daryl Pullman, Alan Goodman, Dorothy Lippert, and Brian Egan.

This three-day event will investigate the implications of genetically reconstructed identities in the realms of archaeology, anthropology, and beyond. The public symposium will explore the larger thematic issue of biological information in identity and specifically the emergence of genetically constructed identities, especially for historically marginalized or disenfranchised peoples. A group of experienced students, scholars, practitioners and community representatives working in the realm of ancient genetic research has been invited to give presentations. Due to the interest of the general public in ancient DNA and genetics, the symposium will be webcast and recorded for later online viewing.

The 2-day workshop that follows will focus on how genetically reconstructed identities may have very specific and tangible implications for Indigenous peoples and other descendant communities. International experts (in genetics, law, history, bioethics, archaeology, and anthropology) will participate in the workshop and engage in discussions on: 1) the ethical, legal and scientific prospects and perils surrounding the use of biological information in substantiating identity and cultural affiliation, and 2) examples of the use of bio-genetic analysis in practices such as federal recognition, land claims, and repatriation of human remains.

Workshop products will help researchers, communities, and other stakeholders address challenges emerging at the crossroads of genetics and identity. This will be the first such gathering in Canada, providing much-needed guidance for conducting research in this area and for understanding findings and their implications in different contexts, including North America, Latin America, southern Africa, an Australia.