Amade M'charek

Amade M'charek
University of Amsterdam | UVA · Department of Anthropology

About

99
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1,389
Citations
Citations since 2016
42 Research Items
992 Citations
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Introduction
Research interests are in forensics, forensic anthropology and race. PI of the projects Dutchness in Genes and Genealogy and Sexuality & Diversity in the Making. Founding chair of the European Network for the Social Studies of Forensics and convenor of the seminar series Ir/relevance of Race in Science and Society. Most recent research is on face making and race making in forensic identification, for which she received an ERC consolidator grant in 2013.

Publications

Publications (99)
Article
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This special issue explores the value of actor-network theory (ANT) for sociology. Using case studies, interviews, conversations and columns we aim to provide insight into the empirical sensibility to practices and objects characteristic of ANT, and to relate these to sociology. This issue does not aim at a representation of ANT, nor does it want t...
Article
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Territorial borders just like other boundaries are involved in a politics of belonging, a politics of “us” and “them”. Border management regimes are thus part of processes of othering. In this article, we use the management of borders and populations in Europe as an empirical example to make a theoretical claim about race. We introduce the notion o...
Book
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This collection reviews developments in DNA profiling across jurisdictions with a focus on scientific and technological advancement as well as the political and socio-legal impact. Written by leading scholars in the fields of Social Studies of Forensic Science, Science and Technology Studies and Socio-Legal Studies the book provides state-of-the-ar...
Article
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In this commentary I argue that rather than going beyond race, we need to ‘stay with the trouble’ of race (Haraway 2016). Race, I want to suggest, is precisely ‘trouble’ because it is produced and sustained in everyday practices. To make this more tangible, I will zoom in on one specific case, a homicide case, that was eventually solved through for...
Article
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In this contribution, we analyze the recently adjudicated Milica van Doorn rape and murder case. In this case, committed in 1992, no suspect could be identified until investigatory actors employed familial DNA searching in 2017. Crucially, familial DNA typing raised the possibility of ethnic and racial stereotyping and profiling, particularly again...
Preprint
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January 2019, the Netherlands: suspect P. is found guilty of raping a young woman in the vicinity of Amsterdam. In a world’s first, Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) technology proved decisive in the conviction of a suspect, constituting a crucial moment for both this particular case and the broader field of forensic genetics. In this paper we pa...
Article
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What was the impact of physical distancing on socially vulnerable groups needing care during the first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in the Netherlands? We conducted repeated qualitative interviews with 141 people in care relationships and 106 professionals, and two repeated surveys among older populations outside ( n = 1697) and inside long-term care...
Preprint
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Drawing on a study of a recently adjudicated Milica van Doorn case, this chapter offers a discussion of the multiple ways racial differences are enacted in forensic and legal practices of identification. This murder and rape case, we suggest, is especially enlightening, as the (unknown) suspect's 'Turkishness' came to be enacted in different ways t...
Article
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Forensic DNA phenotyping (FDP) encompasses a set of technologies geared towards inferring externally visible characteristics from DNA traces found at crime scenes. As such, they are used to generate facial renderings of unknown suspects. First, through the configuration of molecularly inscribed parts, pigmentary traits are assembled into a probabil...
Article
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The face, just like DNA, is taken to represent a unique individual. This article proposes to move beyond this representational model and to attend to the work that a face can do. I introduce the concept of tentacularity to capture the multiple works accomplished by the face. Drawing on the example of DNA phenotyping, which is used to produce a comp...
Chapter
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In this chapter I use the metaphor of the triptych to tell a story about race, gender, and science. The triptych is a threefold, and it is a work of art to narrate stories that do not hang together in a straightforward way, in which time and place relate in nonlinear ways: The three panels of the triptych can be folded and unfolded, superimposing h...
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In this article I introduce the non-English word, harraga, to address the convoluted nature of migration, death, borders and colonial legacies. My empirical material comes from the south of Tunisia. I draw on practices of migration from Tunisia, the extraction of resources and its effect on the economy of the country, and the washing ashore of bodi...
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Present-day academic work is mostly done in English. What happens, or so the contributions to this monograph ask, when we open a few windows, let in some air, and invite elements drawn from other linguistic traditions into our texts? Doing so does not simply mean welcoming other words. Along with this it also changes the conditions, the terms, that...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this chapter I introduce the non-English word, Harraga, to address the convoluted nature of migration, death, borders and colonial legacies. My empirical material comes from the south of Tunisia. I draw on practices of migration from Tunisia, the extraction of resources and its effect on the economy of the country, the washing ashore of dead bod...
Article
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The capacity of contemporary forensic genetics has rendered “race” into an interesting tool to produce clues about the identity of an unknown suspect. Whereas the conventional use of DNA profiling was primarily aimed at the individual suspect, more recently a shift of interest in forensic genetics has taken place, in which the population and the fa...
Article
Full-text available
The capacity of contemporary forensic genetics has rendered “race” into an interesting tool to produce clues about the identity of an unknown suspect. Whereas the conventional use of DNA profiling was primarily aimed at the individual suspect, more recently a shift of interest in forensic genetics has taken place, in which the population and the fa...
Chapter
Border deaths are a result of dynamics involving diverse actors, and can be interpreted and represented in various ways. Critical voices from civil society (including academia) hold states responsible for making safe journeys impossible for large parts of the world population. Meanwhile, policy-makers argue that border deaths demonstrate the need f...
Preprint
Full-text available
The face, just like DNA, is taken to represent a unique individual. This article proposes to move beyond this representational model and to attend to the work that a face can do. I introduce the concept of tentacularity to capture the multiple works accomplished by the face. Drawing on the example of DNA phenotyping, which is used to produce a comp...
Article
Full-text available
The Mediterranean Sea has become an iconic site in the so-called migration crisis. Thousands of dead bodies have washed up on the southern beaches of Europe. We draw on ethnographic material collected at sites in Italy where the bodies of drowned migrants have been cared for by professionals and volunteers. We argue that while caring for the dead a...
Article
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This paper examines ways of knowing “the Roma” as a category of people. It attends to mobility and its obstructions, and the ways that coincide with bureaucratic, institutional, and everyday modes of sorting and racializing groups of people. Our case study is situated in Romania. Whereas “the Roma” do not exist as a category in the Romanian nationa...
Chapter
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In this contribution, we zoom in on a shape-shifting object: race. We seek to demonstrate how an actor-network-theoretical, non-dualistic sensitivity to concrete practices has diffracted the study of race in politically and ontologically fruitful ways by raising new questions, shedding light on ill-understood practices and opening up the possibilit...
Chapter
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As the taste for revolutions in many Arab countries was growing, the attention in Europe quickly turned away from political transformations, justice or democracy towards concerns over security and Europe’s own borders. Indeed, the world watched as the hopes of the Arab spring crashed on the rocks of European shores in the form of the bodies of refu...
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Ein Essay desGenetikers David Reich, erschienen am 23. März in der New York Times, löste eine heftige internationale Diskussion aus. Der Text mit dem Titel „How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‚Race‘“ (Wie die Genforschung unserVerständnis von„Rasse“ verändert) erntete sowohl Kritik als auch Zustimmung, auf die Reich in einem zweiten Arti...
Article
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In 1999 a girl named Marianne Vaatstra was found murdered in a rural area in the Netherlands. In 2012 the perpetrator was arrested. Throughout this period as well as thereafter, the Vaatstra case was never far removed from media attention and public debate. How did this murder become such a high-profile case? In this article we employ the concept o...
Chapter
Biological sex has long been considered a stable, universal factor, the biological counterpart of gender. While this distinction is easily taken for granted, I learned otherwise when I entered the laboratories of the Human Genome Diversity Project. By way of introduction, let me first say something general about this project. During my study of the...
Article
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Mensen zijn genetisch voor 99,9 procent gelijk. Zoveel hebben we van het Human Genome Project geleerd. Toch is de diversiteit groot. Er zijn niet alleen uiterlijke verschillen tussen groepen mensen, maar ook verschillen in reacties op medicatie en in gezondheid.
Article
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Ethnicity is a frequently used measure in research into youth and sexuality in the Netherlands, a country known and admired for its favourable sexual health outcomes. This paper critically examines the production of knowledge about sexuality and ethnicity in the Netherlands. It traces the concept of ethnicity through four research practices (ration...
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In a recent special issue of the journal on new trends in forensic genetics, Manfred Kayser contributed a review of developments, opportunities and challenges of forensic DNA phenotyping (FDP). In his article he argues that FDP technologies—such as determining eye, hair and skin color—should be considered as akin to a "biological witness" with the...
Article
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Background: Developments in neurosciences and genetics are relevant for forensic psychiatry. AIM: To find out whether and how genetic and neuroscientific applications are being used in forensic psychiatric assessments, and, if they are, to estimate to what extent new applications will fit in with these uses. METHOD: We analysed 60 forensic psychia...
Chapter
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Biomedical innovation is often envisioned as a linear process, translating results of lab research into the clinic. The assumption is that deliberation with different concerned parties contributes to responsible innovation. Focusing on the case of Alzheimer diagnostics, Pols and M’charek demonstrate that innovations do not emerge in a linear way. P...
Article
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The article focuses on circulations and what circulations bring about. It does so by following the movements of DNA through different domains of forensic practice. By zooming in on DNA and the role it came to play in the Dutch Marianne Vaatstra case, the paper demonstrates the performative work of circulations and invites to attend empirically to c...
Chapter
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With the Human Genome Project initiative of the late 1980s, and the completion of the very first human genetic map, in 2000, genes became the traveling bits of life par excellence. They became the center of attention, intervention, and study in scientific practice but also an issue and a matter of concern in public discourse and in everyday life. O...
Book
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In de afgelopen jaren heeft de actor-netwerk theorie steeds meer invloed gewonnen buiten het vakgebied van de wetenschaps- en technologiestudies. Maar wat is de relevantie van de actor-netwerk theorie voor sociologisch onderzoek? Deze bundel – tevens themanummer van het tijdschrift Sociologie – is een verkenning van deze benadering die eigenlijk ge...
Article
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Given their commitment to practices, science studies have bestowed considerable attention upon objects. We have the boundary object, the standardized package, the network object, the immutable mobile, the fluid object, even a fire object has entered the scene. However, these objects do not provide us with a way of understanding their historicity. T...
Article
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DNA has become part of everyday contemporary life. Its role in medical and scientific practices is ever growing and it increasingly features as technology for the identification of individuals and populations. Recently we even see DNA getting involved in the enactment of city identities. This article studies a remarkable collaboration between genet...
Article
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In many European countries, the explicit discussion of race as a biological phenomenon has long been avoided. This has not meant that race has become obsolete or irrelevant all together. Rather, it is a slippery object that keeps shifting and changing. To understand its slippery nature, we suggest that race in Europe is best viewed as an absent pre...
Article
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In den Niederlanden dient DNA-Technologie da-zu, Geschichte und Geschichten im Kontext ar-chäologischer Ausgrabungen zu erzeugen. Ein Beitrag zu den Effekten jener neuen Genetik.
Chapter
This paper analyses the way ethnicity informs and is shaped by research practices in sexuality research – how sexuality research contributes to ‘making up people’. Based on a literature review of research into youth, sexuality and education in the Netherlands, four research practices are analyzed. It is shown what the rationales of sexuality resear...
Article
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Waar komen krantenkoppen als ‘Seksualiteit onder allochtonen nog taboe’ vandaan? En wat moeten we maken van onderzoeksrapporten die concluderen dat ‘Antillianen veel met seks bezig zijn’? Hoe toevallig zijn termen als bangalijst, breezers leten loverboy? In dit artikel wordt nagegaan hoe onderzoekspraktijken bijdragen aan de naturalisering van een...
Article
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What is biological race and how is it made relevant by specific practices? How do we address the materiality of biological race without pigeonholing it? And how do we write about it without reifying race as a singular object? This article engages with biological race not by debunking or trivializing it, but by investigating how it is enacted in pra...
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The social and legal implications of forensic DNA are paramount. For this reason, forensic DNA enjoys ample attention from legal, bioethics, and science and technology studies scholars. This article contributes to the scholarship by focusing on the neglected issue of sameness. We investigate a forensic courtroom case which started in the early ’90s...
Article
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In a recent contribution to this journal, Kayser and Schneider reviewed the relevance of external visible characteristics (EVCs) for criminal investigation [1]. Their aim was to broaden the debate about the scientific, legal, and ethical dimensions of the use of EVCs for criminal investigation, which will help to achieve a firm legal basis for the...
Article
Available at: http://www.criminologie.nl/downloads/nvc/criminoloog/de_criminoloog_09.pdf & http://www.websitevoordepolitie.nl/columns/dna-in-strafzaken-rechter-commissaris-is-niet-een-bureaucratische-laag-maar-democratisch-vangnet-1239.html
Article
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What is biological race and how is it made relevant in specific practices? How to address the materiality of biological race without fixing it? And how to write about it without reifying race as a singular object? These are the central questions in this short essay. Instead of debunking or trivializing biological race, it wants to attend to race an...
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De overheid en burgers hechten steeds meer waarde aan preventie. De markt is ingesprongen op dit verlangen. Zo bieden bedrijven net over de grens in Duitsland de in Nederland vergunningsplichtige en de facto verboden Total Body Scans aan. Nederlandse artsen zijn sceptisch over de kwaliteit en het nut van dit soort onderzoeken. In deze beschouwing b...
Article
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Het rechercheren op verdachte populaties herbergt een nieuwe set van juridische, normatieve en ethische problemen. Een weigering van een ‘interessant persoon’ uit een verdachte populatie om celmateriaal af te staan, maakt die persoon extra interessant. Daarmee staat het vrijwilligheidsprincipe onder druk. Personen behorend tot de verdachte populati...
Article
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This article is about the materiality of difference, about race, sex and sexual differences among others. To find out about these differences and their materialities, this article looks not into bodies but rather at how bodies are positioned in spaces and how they are enacted in practice. In the first part of the article, the focus is on the relati...
Article
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Down Syndrome is typically considered to be a genetic disease, that is, an abnormality in the chromosomal count. In this paper, however, I will focus on other practices of Down’s syndrome. First, I will examine a case of post-natal care, to show how race and disability are made and unmade in relation to each another. I will argue that the ‘body of...
Article
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Review on Ordinary Genomes: Science, Citizenship, and Genetic Identities. Karen-Sue Taussig. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. 264 pp. Pb.: $22.95. ISBN: 978-0822345343
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DNA profiling is a well-established technology for use in the criminal justice system, both in courtrooms and elsewhere. The fact that DNA profiles are based on non-coding DNA and do not reveal details about the physical appearance of an individual has contributed to the acceptability of this type of evidence. Its success in criminal investigation,...
Article
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Forensic DNA practice is about identification and thus about making individuality. Yet in order for this to be possible an individual has to be placed in a population, a precondition which has caused problems for the forensic community. For given the lack of a standard biological definition, what is a population? Meanwhile forensic DNA has come of...
Book
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This report is the result of an exploratory project, commissioned by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), to examine factors that facilitate and constrain a focus on "diversity" in clinical research. To what extent do individual traits and circumstances influence health outcomes, and are these sufficiently inves...
Book
Introduction: The Human Genome Diversity Project 1. Technologies of populations: making differences and similarities between Turkish and Dutch males 3. Ten chimps in a laboratory: or how a human genetic marker may become a good genetic marker for typing chimps 4. Naturalisation of a reference sequence: Anderson or the Mitochondrial Eve of modern ge...
Article
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This article is about population. My aim is to answer the question, what is population? Instead of defining it myself or asking geneticists what it is, I want to trace population in genetic practices and to observe how it is embodied in them. Toward this end, I analyze a forensic case. My analysis results in two arguments: first, that geneticists c...

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Project
Dear colleagues, I would like to draw your attention tot this fundraising campaign aimed at building a cemetery for burying drowned migrants who wash up in the south of Tunisia. Recently we initiated the foundation Stichting Drowned Migrant Cemetery as to help realising a dignifying cemetery for drowned migrants in the town of Zarzis (South Tunisia). To this end we will work together with local officials, volunteers and NGOs. In addition, we are in conversation with international NGOs to start a process of registration and documentation of these bodies. On the website you will find background information for this initiative. We hope to collect the necessary 40,000 euros as soon as possible with a social media campaign. So we need your help. Your donation is welcome! But we also ask you to spread this fundraising call as widely as possible. http://stichting-dmc.nl/ (in Dutch, English and French) Thank you very much, On behalf of the board of the DMC Foundation, Amade M’charek.
Project
In many European countries race is a taboo subject. Due to colonialism and WWII, studying race is delegated to the realm of ‘bad science’ or declared irrelevant all together. Yet, current biomedicine and forensic practices are co-shaped by techniques that depend on and explore differences between human populations. In the process, these techniques reintroduce and shape race in both science and society. But this is not done upfront. In Europe race has become an absent presence, an object that pops up, e.g. in discourse to then hide in seemingly unproblematic techniques, e.g. in genetic markers. The RaceFaceID research project seeks to open up for study this double move, in which ‘race’ gets configured but not discussed. The RaceFaceID project is an ethnographic study of race in forensic identification, in which the focus is on practices of giving a face to an unknown individual, a suspect or a victim. Although the face is generally viewed as the ultimate individual identifier, in practice individuality cannot be achieved without situating an individual in a population (M’charek 2000). Rather than defining race, we follow the relation between the individual and the population in practice and attend to instances in which this relation is translated, and wherein population comes to stand for race. The chief objective of the RaceFaceID project is to explore a) how technologies of identification rely on and reiterate racial ways of understanding differences; b) how the version of race enacted in the process changes as knowledge travels across forensic sites; and c) which mechanisms contribute to the absent-presentness of race. We study three different technologies of identifications through in-depth multi-sited ethnographies (Marcus 1995): (1) the frontier science of genetic facial phenotying (e.g. the inference of facial form, hair, skin and iris colour from DNA); (2) the established technologies of craniofacial reconstruction (facial reconstruction based on the skull); and (3) the classical facial composite (either based on sketching or computerised photofit). We therein examine how knowledge travels from forensic laboratories to courtrooms, also from the forensic laboratories to so-called Research and Development sites. Guiding the RaceFaceID project is the overarching question: How is race enacted in forensic practices? A series of sub-questions will address the answer: a) How do various technologies of identification in- and outside the laboratory enact race? b) How do versions of race change as they move between practices? c) What mechanisms work to make race an absent presence? d) What concepts are apt to theoretically grasp the name- and shape-changing nature of race? The project aims to develop a theoretical and methodological framework for studying race-in-practice. The framework is aimed at advancing our knowledge about the ways race is enacted through and materializes in technologies. It thus aims at advancing our understanding of the materiality of race in practice, not by reducing race to biology or the body, but by tracing ethnographically how race is configured as specific relations between the biological, the social and the technical. The project also aims to shed light on how the traffic of knowledge between sites implies that race is translated and made relevant in a variety of ways. To date, studies into racial configurations have concentrated on scientific settings (laboratory or clinic) or on sites where the sciences are marginal. This project will move beyond this by following the trajectory along which knowledge and technology move across diverse sites, in and out of the laboratory. It will detail how versions of race are enacted and the socio-technical relations that need to be in place to do that. Finally, it aims to advance social science by studying race as an absent presence, an object that tends to hide in seemingly unproblematic categories or in the technologies and routines of science. We will not focus on discourses (indeed the word ‘race’ often remains unspoken) but on practices and meticulously examine how race, even if not articulated, is still enacted and embedded in ways of working and in technologies. Studying race in forensic practice today is highly relevant, since forensics constitutes one of the major domains where science and society interact.