Genomic Citizenship: Peoplehood and State in Israel and Qatar
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AbstractThis dissertation describes basic genetic research and biobanking of ethnic populations in Israel and Qatar. I track how biomedical research on ethnic populations relates to the political, economic, legal, and historical context of the states; to global trends in genetic medicine; and to the politics of identity in the context of global biomedical research. I describe the ways biology is becoming a site for negotiating identity in ethnic genetics, in discourse over rights to citizenship, in rare disease genetics, and in personalized medicine. The core focus of this work is the way the molecular realm is an emergent site for articulations of ethnonational identities in the contemporary Middle East. This is thus a study of Middle Eastern ethnonationalism and state building through the lens of biology, specifically genetics and biobanking. In revealing the complex interdigitations of genomic technologies and articulations of ethnonational identity, this scholarship informs the biopolitics of the contemporary Middle East. I find that societal conditions (emerging national identities, immigration, demographic pressures, enskillment of citizens, biomedical capacity building, and globalization of the economy), and technological affordances (such advances in the speed and power of genomic sequencing technologies, and the entailed promises of biomedical progress), collide to overdetermine biological iterations of ethnic identity, and I show that biobanking projects serve, to varying degrees, to inculcate an imagination of shared history; a collective community; and a healthy utopian future. I argue that the Israeli and Qatari national biobanks imagine participation in ‘global science’ while at the same time they reinforce local ethnic identities. The Israeli biobank reflects pre-existing ethnic identities in Israeli society, while the Qatari biobank preferentially emphasizes the emergent national character of the Qatari population. As a comparative study of genetics and ethnic identity in the contemporary Middle East, this research, therefore, speaks both to the social theory of the co-production of science and society and to the anthropology of nation and state building.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40049986
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