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Lunch Seminar Series: Prof. LiLi Johnson
April 7, 2022 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Genetic Intimacies: 23andMe, Kinship, and the Racialization of Genetic Ancestry Testing
STS Lunch Seminar with LiLi Johnson
Assistant Professor, Gender and Women’s Studies
April 7, 12:30-1:30 pm, Zoom
Efforts to define the boundaries of contemporary racial categories in American culture have come to the fore in recent years with the rise of genetic technologies and ancestry tests that associate race with the body in new ways. Services like 23andMe and Ancestry.com advertise that they will help consumers “find their roots” by offering individualized genetic information, and some have been used to discover genetic relatives amongst users. This presentation uses 23andMe as a case study to explore the ways in which popular genetic ancestry testing operates as a “technology of family” that simultaneously produces new forms of kinship and articulates contemporary neoliberal meanings of race and difference. I show how the convergence of the digital with fantasies of genetic relatedness function as a cultural site in which consumer explorations of identity and multicultural “inclusion” are still beholden to racialized forms of border-making.
Johnson, LiLi. “Transnational Family Photographs and Adoption From Asia.” Trans-Asia Photography Review 11.1 (Spring 2021).
Sturgis, Meshell and Joseph, Ralina L.. “3. Visualizing Mixed Race and Genetics” In Race and Media: Critical Approaches edited by Lori Kido Lopez, 39-56. New York, USA: New York University Press, 2020.