University of Cambridge > > Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars > "A Single Grand Science": Anthropology and Genetics after the Second World War

"A Single Grand Science": Anthropology and Genetics after the Second World War

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Hilary Powell.

In 1946, the President of the Royal Anthropological Institute announced that it had “been a mistake to divide mankind into groups termed ‘races’ ... it is much more probable that drifts of people in different directions have carried some ancient characters far and wide … We shall greatly welcome increased co-operation from researchers in genetics”. The concept of ‘race’ had become a perilous one after the Second World War, and anthropologists looked to the genetics community to help transform races into population ‘gene pools’. In turn, geneticists negotiated with anthropologists to define the collection and processing practices proper to a population genetics of humans. Crucial to both endeavors was the genetics of blood groups: geneticists and anthropologists saw blood groups as objective, clean records of historical information, and made them into the principle tool for characterising human populations and determining their history. In her talk, Jenny will outline how links were forged between the fields of anthropology, population genetics and the blood transfusion services. She will explore how negotiations over the practises of blood grouping contributed to the making of ‘human genetics’.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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