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History in the Gene: Negotiations Between Molecular and Organismal Anthropology

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In the advertising discourse of human genetic database projects, of genetic ancestry tracing companies, and in popular books on anthropological genetics, what I refer to as the anthropological gene and genome appear as documents of human history, by far surpassing the written record and oral history in scope and accuracy as archives of our past. How did macromolecules become "documents of human evolutionary history"? Historically, molecular anthropology, a term introduced by Emile Zuckerkandl in 1962 to characterize the study of primate phylogeny and human evolution on the molecular level, asserted its claim to the privilege of interpretation regarding hominoid, hominid, and human phylogeny and evolution vis-à-vis other historical sciences such as evolutionary biology, physical anthropology, and paleoanthropology. This process will be discussed on the basis of three key conferences on primate classification and evolution that brought together exponents of the respective fields and that were held in approximately ten-years intervals between the early 1960s and the 1980s. I show how the anthropological gene and genome gained their status as the most fundamental, clean, and direct records of historical information, and how the prioritizing of these epistemic objects was part of a complex involving the objectivity of numbers, logic, and mathematics, the objectivity of machines and instruments, and the objectivity seen to reside in the epistemic objects themselves.

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... For more on Zuckerkandl and ''informational molecules," see Suárez-Díaz (2007). 20 Sommer (2008), p. 476. 21 Sommer (2008) cites Zuckerkandl and Pauling (1965) and Pauling (2014 [1965]). ...
... 20 Sommer (2008), p. 476. 21 Sommer (2008) cites Zuckerkandl and Pauling (1965) and Pauling (2014 [1965]). 22 For more on Zuckerkandl and Pauling and the development of molecular clocks, see Morgan and Zuckerkandl. ...
In their 1987 Nature publication, “Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution,” Rebecca Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan C. Wilson gave a new reconstruction of human evolution on the basis of differences in mitochondrial DNA among contemporary human populations. This phylogeny included an African common ancestor for all human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages, and Cann et al.’s reconstruction became known as the “Out of Africa” hypothesis. Since mtDNA is inherited exclusively through the maternal line, the common ancestor who was first branded African Eve later became known as Mitochondrial Eve (mtEve, for short). In this paper, I show that mtEve was not a single, successful, or purely scientific discovery. Instead, she was produced many times and in many ways, each of which informed the next. Importantly, though Wilson and colleagues heralded mitochondrial DNA as a source of certainty, objectivity, and consensus for evolutionary inference, their productions of Mitochondrial Eve depended as much on popular assumptions about the certainty of maternal inheritance as they did on new molecular and computational tools. This recognition lets us reevaluate the complex consequences of these productions, which, like mtEve herself, could not be confined to a purely social, material, or scientific dimension.
... By contrast, many of his contemporaries in the field of molecular evolution claimed the superiority of the molecular approach and, in particular, of the analysis of the amino acid sequences in proteins, over morphological data. This change in discourse, from molecules being complementary to traditional taxonomic traits, to their claimed superiority, produced a disciplinary turmoil in evolutionary biology and a long lasting debate involving issues of epistemic authority, that have been extensively studied by historians of science (Dietrich, 1998;Hagen, 1999;Aronson, 2002;Sua´rez-Dı´az, 2007;Sommer, 2008). This rhetorical shift took place simultaneously with the introduction of amino acid sequence analysis at the beginning of the 1960s. ...
... John Beatty links many of the conceptual developments of classical biologists at this time, with the struggle for (economic, human, academic) resources against molecular biologists. See also Dietrich, 1998;Morgan, 1998;Aronson, 2002;Sua´rez-Dı´az, 2007;Sommer, 2008. MOLECULAR DATA IN PHYLOGENETIC ANALYSIS 469 sequences. ...
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The use of molecules and reactions as evidence, markers and/or traits for evolutionary processes has a history more than a century long. Molecules have been used in studies of intra-specific variation and studies of similarity among species that do not necessarily result in the analysis of phylogenetic relations. Promoters of the use of molecular data have sustained the need for quantification as the main argument to make use of them. Moreover, quantification has allowed intensive statistical analysis, as a condition and a product of increasing automation. All of these analyses are subject to the methodological anxiety characteristic of a community in search of objectivity (Suárez-Díaz and Anaya-Muñoz, Stud Hist Philos Biol Biomed Sci 39:451-458, 2008). It is in this context that scientists compared and evaluated protein and nucleic acid sequence data with other types of molecular data - including immunological, electrophoretic and hybridization data. This paper argues that by looking at long-term historical processes, such as the use of molecular evidence in evolutionary biology, we gain valuable insights into the history of science. In that sense, it accompanies a growing concern among historians for big-pictures of science that incorporate the fruitful historical research on local cases of the last decades.
... A recent turn, however, has placed the body at the center of these reconstructive efforts. In the field of molecular anthropology, DNA is regarded as a kind of biological "archive" that can provide unprecedented insights into human histories (Sommer 2008). The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 marked a watershed in researchers' ability to access genomic information. ...
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In molecular anthropology, DNA is regarded as a kind of biological "archive" that can provide unprecedented insights into human histories. More recently, genetic analysis has been used to explore the origins of African-descendant populations in the Americas. This idea has also been adopted by a burgeoning DNA ancestry testing industry that portrays these technologies as a means of restoring ethnic links effaced by slavery. Despite the popularity of these tests, critics have raised persistent scientific and ethical concerns about how far genomic data can, or should, be used to reconstruct social identities. In this paper, we take stock of these developments, assessing the combined influence of scientists, businesses, and members of the public in defining the scope of genetics for restoring ethnic links between African and African American populations. Drawing on perspectives from social and molecular anthropology, we examine the challenges of translating genetic findings into historically significant terms without reifying the correspondence between genetic and social identities, and we explore how personalized DNA ancestry results are being negotiated and mobilized by test takers "on the ground." Finally, we consider the responsibilities of anthropologists in addressing ongoing biocolonial tendencies and power disparities in the production of genetic ancestry.
... Cuando nos preguntamos por qué los teóricos evolucionistas de los años sesenta del siglo pasado rechazaron las primeras teorías de la antropología molecular, aquellas que dicen que genéticamente somos sólo una variación de los monos, está claro que hay tres respuestas erradas, y las tres fueron expuestas por Morris Goodman y por Emile Zuckerkandl (Goodman, 1996;Hagen, 2009;Dietrich, 1998;Aronson, 2002;Sommer, 2008;Suárez-Díaz y Anaya-Muñoz, 2008). La primera respuesta incorrecta declara que es, de alguna manera, una declaración de antropocentrismo, pero no fue así, pues los argumentos se asocian con la misma fuerza a otros grupos. ...
... This kind of investigation, at the intersection of anthropological, historical and biological research, is commonly referred to as "molecular anthropology". The birth of this discipline can be traced back to 1962, when the American biologist of Austrian origin Emil Zuckerkandl, during the Conference "Classification and Human Evolution" held in Burg Wartenstein in Austria, coined its definition (Sommer 2008). Since then, the horizons of this discipline have expanded, following pioneering studies that have been carried out since the 1970s by the Italian geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and his students and colleagues (Cavalli-Sforza & Bodmer 1971;Mourant 1977;Rychkov & Sheremetyeva 1977;Sokal et al. 1986;Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994;Cavalli-Sforza 2000; see also Jorde 1980 and related citations therein). ...
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The use of genetic information for anthropological purposes requires an effort by the researcher to deal with the ethical issues that may arise. In some cases, these can lead to rather complex relationships between anthropologists and communities. The transparency of the research protocol is a fundamental requirement in order to establish a relationship based on trust and to conduct investigations in the most ethically sustainable way. In addition, researchers must take into consideration further aspects regarding the indigenous conceptions of corporeity, memory and history. Knowledge of these characteristics can help in the interpretation of results produced by the geneticists, and constitute a series of social, political and cultural responses. By involving the communities being investigated and engaging in a frequent and fruitful dialogue with their members will make it possible for anthropologists to learn more and also provide useful answers for the populations themselves.
... More broadly, at a cultural level, these epigenetic connections of slavery or other historical traumas to present etiologies resound with attempts at reconfiguring the genealogical past using genomic signatures (and their objectivistic allure) as evidentiary documents of human history (Sommer, 2008;El-Haj, 2012), although here there is a sui generis synchronization between history and the epigenetic archive, as said above. ...
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The notion that biological memories of environmental experiences can be embedded in the human genome and even transmitted transgenerationally is increasingly relevant in the postgenomic world, particularly in molecular epigenetics, where the genome is conceptualized as porous to environmental signals. In this article I discuss the current rethinking of race in epigenetic rather than genetic terms, emphasizing some of its paradoxical implications, especially for public policy. I claim in particular that: (i) if sociologists want to investigate race in a postgenomic world they should pay more attention to this novel plastic and biosocial view of race; and (ii) there are no reasons to believe that an epigenetic view will extinguish race, or that soft-inheritance claims will produce a less exclusionary discourse than genetics (hard heredity). Quite the opposite, the ground for a re-racialization of social debates and the reinforcement of biological boundaries between groups are highlighted in the article.
... For historical commentary, seeDietrich (1998),Morgan (1998),Hagen (1999),Dietrich and Skipper (2007),Sommer (2008), Suarez-Diaz and Anaya-Munoz (2008),Hagen (2009, 2011), Suarez-Diaz (2014,O'Malley (2016). ...
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Molecular clocks based upon amino acid sequences in proteins have played a major role in the clarification of evolutionary phylogenies. Creationist criticisms of these methods sometimes rely upon data that might initially seem to be paradoxical. For example, human cytochrome c differs from that of an alligator by 13 amino acids but differs by 14 amino acids from a much more closely related primate, Otolemur garnettii. The apparent anomaly is resolved by taking into consideration the variable substitution rate of cytochrome c, particularly among primates. This paper traces some of the history of extensive research into the topic of rate heterogeneity in cytochrome c including data from cytochrome c pseudogenes.
... It was not until the 1990s, however, that DNA gradually began to replace skeletal material and other sources (texts, languages, and archaeological remains) as the avenue into human history and variation. A few geneticists and biological anthropologists began to see bones as almost trivial antiques (see Sommer, 2008), somewhat like ancient manuscripts, secondary to DNA sequences and gene frequencies. At the same time, genomics acquired a central place in national projects, as a powerful avenue into health and history. ...
Article
Emphasizing concerns with cultural identity, belonging, ancestry, and health, this article discusses the national roots of the science of human variation and differences, focusing on the significance of genomic studies for national projects and the significance of national concerns for genomics. This is illustrated through a discussion of national biobanks, genomic projects, and genealogical databases, while highlighting purposes, limitations, and future scenarios.
... The study of phenotypic variation (skin colour, skull shapes, hair texture, fingerprints, etc.) that for decades was seen as the hallmark of physical anthropology, no longer had centre stage. A few geneticists and biological anthropologists began to see bones as almost trivial antique in the history of studies of human variation (see Sommer, 2008), somewhat like ancient manuscripts, secondary to DNA sequences and gene frequencies. Keeping in mind, however, that formerly discarded sources of data sometimes acquire new meaning as a result of conceptual and methodological advances (ancient DNA being one pertinent example), skeletal morphology should not be discounted. ...
Article
Biological and physical anthropologists have tended to see the study of human variation and the material body as the defining elements of their subdiscipline(s). Generally, sociologists and social anthropologists, in contrast, have shown little interest in such issues. For them, the body has often been taken for granted, absent-present, as a relatively stable and commanding platform on which a variety of cultural inscriptions can be established and performed. Recent theoretical developments, however, in anthropology, sociology and related fields – informed by the notions of biosociality and nature cultures – contribute to the understanding of an unstable, relational and variable body. Since the material and the social body are fundamentally conflated through continuous processes of relationality and embodiment, this paper argues, the issue of human variation needs to be revised and expanded. Such rethinking has important biopolitical implications, particularly in the context of divisions marked by race, ethnicity, class and gender.
... The study of phenotypic variation (skin colour, skull shapes, hair texture, fingerprints, etc.) that for decades was seen as the hallmark of physical anthropology, no longer had centre stage. A few geneticists and biological anthropologists began to see bones as almost trivial antique in the history of studies of human variation (see Sommer, 2008), somewhat like ancient manuscripts, secondary to DNA sequences and gene frequencies. Keeping in mind, however, that formerly discarded sources of data sometimes acquire new meaning as a result of conceptual and methodological advances (ancient DNA being one pertinent example), skeletal morphology should not be discounted. ...
... In the genetic analysis, molecular time, which is already a controversial measure in itself (Sommer 2008), is collapsed with historical time, despite the fact that those categories operate on quite different levels (see MacEachem 2000) . Ethnic differences are first taken for granred and only then are genetic maps produced accordingly (see Marks 2001) -a highly problematic methodological issue. ...
... Tree diagrams have gained renewed power in the second half of the 20 th century through the molecularization of research into human evolution (Sommer, 2008). In Sommer's contribution to this issue, she reconstructs their history from the 1960s when mathematical and computational tools were developed to arrive at human-population trees from various kinds of serological and molecular data. ...
Article
Images are at the heart of strategies of persuasion. They render certain aspects visible and leave others unrepresented; and they may shape processes of scientific reasoning and imagination. By tracing diagrammatic images in the anthropological sciences throughout the 20th century, the contributions to this special issue highlight some dominant pictorial traditions for rendering human evolution and diversity visible. This article aims to provide an overview of and an introduction to the special issue ‘Visibility Matters’.
... Emile Zuckerkandl is a well-known character for historians of molecular evolution and molecular anthropology, as co-author of the concept of the molecular clock (Zuckerkandl and Pauling 1962;Morgan 1998), and a defender of the superiority of molecules over morphological traits in the study of evolution (see Dietrich 1998;Morgan 1998;Aronson 2002;Suárez-Díaz 2007;Sommer 2008 for extensive accounts). Less known, however, are the theoretical approaches to the evolution of complex genomes and regulation that he developed in the 1970s, work which extended into the 1990s. ...
Article
This paper argues that the "long 1970s" (1969-1983) is an important though often overlooked period in the development of a rich landscape in the research of metabolism, development, and evolution. The period is marked by: shrinking public funding of basic science, shifting research agendas in molecular biology, the incorporation of new phenomena and experimental tools from previous biological research at the molecular level, and the development of recombinant DNA techniques. Research was reoriented towards eukaryotic cells and development, and in particular towards "giant" RNA processing and transcription. We will here focus on three different models of developmental regulation published in that period: the two models of eukaryotic genetic regulation at the transcriptional level that were developed by Georgii P. Georgiev on the one hand, and by Roy Britten and Eric Davidson on the other; and the model of genetic sufficiency and evolution of regulatory genes proposed by Emile Zuckerkandl. These three cases illustrate the range of exploratory hypotheses that characterised the challenging landscape of gene regulation in the 1970s, a period that in hindsight can be labelled as transitional, between the biology at the laboratory bench of the preceding period, and the biology of genetic engineering and intensive data-driven research that followed.
... Questa tipologia di studi, che sta all'intersezione fra ricerca antropologica, storica e biologica, viene comunemente definita "antropologia molecolare". La nascita di questa disciplina può essere idealmente datata al 1962, quando il biologo americano di origine austriaca Emil Zuckerkandl, nell'ambito del convegno "Classification and Human Evolution" tenutosi a Burg Wartenstein in Austria, per primo ne coniò la definizione(Sommer 2008). Da allora, gli orizzonti dell'antropologia molecolare si sono rapidamente allargati, tanto che essa può essere a ragione considerata oggi una delle più promettenti sotto-discipline dell'antropologia. ...
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Condividere il sapere: la doppia sfida dell'antropologia tra ricerca scientifica ed interesse pubblico
... Recent powerful critiques directed at the boundary work done to distinguish old from new race science concentrated mainly on the theoretical and political statements of leading geneticists (Gannett and Griesemer 2004;Pogliano 2005;Reardon 2005;Sommer 2008). But how did the new approach play out in empirical designs of genetic studies? ...
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Historians have drawn a line between scientific racism, exemplified in the typological approach of German race scientists, and population-based approaches toward races or human genetic diversity. The postwar time is often understood as a watershed in this respect. My argument is that typological and population-based race concepts cannot be so easily segregated either before or after World War II. In spite of noteworthy differences between the two, on closer inspection, one finds population-based concepts in German race science before World War II as well as typologies and typological aspects in human population genetics after World War II, and continuities between them. In this paper I aim at viewing German race science in its contemporary international context up to the 1960s. With regard to its theoretical groundings, research problems, research designs, methods, practices, results, and interpretations, German race science was far more embedded in contemporary research on human diversity around the world than is generally assumed. Most notably, researchers in the field have been preoccupied with identifying and examining “isolated” and “mixed” populations from the mid-nineteenth century until the present. Yet instead of rendering German race science harmless, this contextualization aims at drawing attention to the generally precarious aspects of research into “human variation” or “human diversity.”
... 5 Goodman later accused Simpson of rejecting his classification for reasons of anthropocentric and antievolutionary prejudice (Goodman 1996;Hagen 2009). Zuckerkandl wrote it off to a prejudice against genetics (Aronson 2002;Dietrich 1998;Sommer 2008;Suárez-Díaz and Anaya-Muñoz 2008). In fact, it was the arrogance and ignorance behind the claims themselves that put the systematists off molecular anthropology. ...
Article
Although we often date the conflict of “molecules and morphology” in biological anthropology to the 1962 Wenner-Gren conference “Classification and Human Evolution,” the roots of the conflict extend considerably deeper. In the first half of the twentieth century, two established research traditions applied genetic data to problems in physical anthropology: racial serology and systematic serology. These had a tense relationship with the more mainstream areas of racial anthropology and primate taxonomy. Both produced conclusions that were often difficult to reconcile with traditional physical anthropology but that laid claim to the authoritative voices of genetics and evolution. They were also less relevant and less threatening to general anthropology than the other movement for the application of genetics to anthropological problems—eugenics—had been. I discuss the relations of genetics to anthropology as manifested in the areas of eugenics, race, and primate taxonomy in the early twentieth century and the field’s transformation into anthropological genetics in the 1960s.
... The anthropological terrain of human variability in the wake of the new genetics, however, proved to be highly differentiated and rapidly changing, with both radical innovations in methods and perspectives and surprising continuities. Sommer (2008) emphasizes successive contests, following the birth of what Zuckerkandl identified as "molecular anthropology" (Zuckerkandl 1963), over what counts as a legitimate epistemic object and authoritative information in the reconstruction of hominid evolution and human variation. The early molecular anthropologists became convinced of the intrinsic superiority and mathematical precision of direct molecular data in comparison with the subjectivity of readings of anatomic data and the fossil record. ...
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With the advancement of genomic research, the issue of human variation has been redefined. Genomic anthropology has played an important role, drawing on and expanding anthropological understanding of human genomes and their differences. Focusing on the deCODEme and 23andMe projects, which offer personal services to people who wish to assess genetic risks for common diseases and to explore geographies of ancestry, in this article I discuss some of the larger implications of these developments. I shall argue that in the process, the boundary between experts and lay persons has been blurred and refashioned. I suggest, however, that it is also essential to attend to the potential hierarchies in the making in the assembly of personal genomic material and information through which consumers become active collaborators.
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Reintroducing the notion of Relevant Kinds to understand flexible classificacions.
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This is the story, told in the light of a new analysis of historical data, of a mathematical biology problem that was explored in the 1930s in Thomas Morgan’s laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. It is one of the early developments of evolutionary genetics and quantitative phylogeny, and deals with the identification and counting of chromosomal inversions in Drosophila species from comparisons of genetic maps. A re-analysis of the data produced in the 1930s using current mathematics and computational technologies reveals how a team of biologists, with the help of a renowned mathematician and against their first intuition, came to an erroneous conclusion regarding the presence of phylogenetic signals in gene arrangements. This example illustrates two different aspects of a same piece: (1) the appearance of a mathematical in biology problem solved with the development of a combinatorial algorithm, which was unusual at the time, and (2) the role of errors in scientific activity. Also underlying is the possible influence of computational complexity in understanding the directions of research in biology.
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« Les ‹races› n’existent pas!» Cette phrase, tous ceux qui travaillent sur le racisme l’ont sans doute entendue une fois, sous cette forme ou sous une autre, et beaucoup l’ont sans doute aussi prononcée eux-mêmes afin de se démarquer d’une conception biologique de la répartition des humains selon leur origine et leur couleur de peau. On a souvent recours, en l’espèce, à l’autorité de l’expertise en sciences naturelles – par exemple lorsqu’on affirme qu’il « n’existe pas de ‹races›» (Arndt 2011 : 660), que les «races» ne sont « pas des faits biologiques», qu’il n’existe « pas de base scientifique à la répartition de l’humanité en races» (Degele 2008 : 96) ou encore que les «‹races› n’ont […] pas de réalité biologique» (El-Tayeb 2005 : 7). De tels propos sont importants si l’on veut contrer les tentatives de justifier l’inégalité sociale, l’exploitation et le racisme par des différenciations biologiques. Dans ce type de déclarations, la «race» apparaît cependant majoritairement comme une fiction anachronique et comme le produit d’aberrations pseudoscientifiques auxquelles il faut opposer, à la manière des Lumières – c’est ce que l’on espère –, la factualité des découvertes scientifiques les plus récentes. Mais la répétition fréquente de ces propos n’a à ce jour ni aboli les racisations biologiques, ni mis un terme au racisme. De plus, on néglige le plus souvent qu’en procédant ainsi, on met à l’écart de l’observation critique la biologie et en particulier les conditions et les pratiques de la production de savoir biologique, ce qui fait échapper au regard des aspects importants du problème de la race.
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«‹Rassen› gibt es nicht!» Diesen Satz haben wohl alle, die sich mit Rassismus beschäftigen, so oder ähnlich bereits einmal gehört oder gelesen, und viele dürften ihn auch schon selbst einmal geäussert haben, um sich damit gegen ein biologisches Verständnis zur Einteilung von Menschen nach Herkunft und Hautfarbe abzugrenzen. Oft wird dabei auf die Autorität naturwissenschaftlicher Expertise rekurriert, wenn beispielsweise angeführt wird, dass «es keine ‹Rassen› gibt» (Arndt 2011, 660), dass «Rassen […] keine biologischen Tatsachen» seien, es «keine wissenschaftliche Basis für die Einteilung der Menschheit in Rassen» gebe (Degele 2008, 96) bzw. dass «‹Rassen› […] keine biologische Realität» hätten (El-Tayeb 2005, 7). Solche Aussagen sind wichtig, um gegen Versuche vorzugehen, soziale Ungleichheit, Ausbeutung und Rassismus mit biologischen Differenzierungen zu rechtfertigen. «Rasse» erscheint in derlei Äusserungen aber überwiegend als anachronistische Fiktion sowie als Produkt pseudowissenschaftlicher Verirrungen, denen in aufklärerischer Manier – so die Hoffnung – die Faktizität neuester wissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisse entgegenzusetzen sei. Doch die häufige Wiederholung dieser Aussagen hat bis heute weder biologische Rassifizierungen abgeschafft, noch Rassismus beendet. Zudem wird zumeist übersehen, dass dadurch die Biologie und insbesondere die Bedingungen und Praktiken biologischer Wissensproduktion der kritischen Betrachtung entzogen werden, wodurch wichtige Aspekte des Problems Rasse aus dem Blick geraten.
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Biological and physical anthropologists have tended to see the study of human variation and the material body as the defining elements of their subdiscipline(s). Generally, sociologists and social anthropologists, in contrast, have shown little interest in such issues. For them, the body has often been taken for granted, absent-present, as a relatively stable and commanding platform on which a variety of cultural inscriptions can be established and performed. Recent theoretical developments, however, in anthropology, sociology and related fields – informed by the notions of biosociality and nature cultures – contribute to the understanding of an unstable, relational and variable body. Since the material and the social body are fundamentally conflated through continuous processes of relationality and embodiment, this paper argues, the issue of human variation needs to be revised and expanded. Such rethinking has important biopolitical implications, particularly in the context of divisions marked by race, ethnicity, class and gender.
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This article places the current high-profile and controversial scientific project that I call 'genetic ethnology' within the same two-century tradition of biologically classifying modern peoples as pre-1945 race anthropology. Similarities in how these two biological projects have combined political and scientific agendas raise questions about the liberalism of genetics and stimulate concerns that genetic constructions of human difference might revive a politics of hate, division and hierarchy. The present article however goes beyond existing work that links modern genetics with race anthropology. It systematically compares their many similar practices and organisational features, showing that both projects were political-scientific syntheses. Studying how the origins, geography, filiations, 'travels and encounters of our ancestors' affect 'current genetic variation', both seem to have responded to a continuous public demand for biologists to explain the histories of politically significant peoples and give them a scientific basis. I challenge habitual contrasts between apolitical scientific genetics and racist pseudoscience and use race anthropology as a parable for how, in the era of Brexit and Trump, right-wing identity politics might infect genetic ethnology. I argue however that although biology-based identities carry risks of essentialism and determinism, the practices and organisation of classification pose greater political dangers.
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Anthropological genetics emerged as a new discipline to investigate the origin of human species in the second half of the twentieth century. Using the genetic database of blood groups and other protein polymorphisms, anthropological geneticists started redrawing the ancient migratory history of human populations. A peculiarity of the Korean experience is that clinical physicians were the first experts using genetic data to theorize the historical origin of the respective population. This paper examines how South Korean physicians produced the genetic knowledge and discourse of the Korean origin in the 1970s and 1980s. It argues that transnational scientific exchange led clinical researchers to engage in global anthropological studies. The paper focuses on two scientific cooperative cases in medical genetics at the time: the West German-South Korean pharmacogenetic research on the Korean population and the Asia-Oceania Histocompatibility Workshop. At the outset, physicians introduced medical genetics into their laboratory for clinical applications. Involved in cooperative projects on investigating anthropological implications of their clinical work, medical researchers came to use their genetic data for studying the Korean origin. In the process, physicians simply followed a nationalist narrative of the Korean origin rather than criticizing it. This was partially due to their lack of serious interest in anthropological work. Their explanations about the Korean origin would be considered “scientific” while hiding their embracing of the nationalist narrative.
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This paper extends previous arguments against the assumption that the study of variation at the molecular level was instigated with a view to solving an internal conflict between the balance and classical schools of population genetics. It does so by focusing on the intersection of basic research in protein chemistry and the molecular approach to disease with the enactment of global health campaigns during the Cold War period. The paper connects advances in research on protein structure and function as reflected in Christian Anfinsen?s The molecular basis of evolution, with a political reading of Emil? Zuckerkandl and Linus Pauling's identification of molecular disease and evolution. Beyond atomic fallout, these advances constituted a rationale for the promotion of genetic surveys of human populations in the Third World, in connection with international health programs. Light is shed not only on the experimental roots of the molecular challenge but on the broader geopolitical context where the rising role of biomedicine and public health (particularly the malaria eradication campaigns) had an impact on evolutionary biology.
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In recent years, molecular genetics has opened up an entirely new approach to human history. DNA evidence is now being used not only in studies of early human evolution (molecular anthropology), but is increasingly helping to solve the puzzles of history. This emergent research field has become known as »genetic history«. The paper gives an overview on this new field of research. The aim is both to discuss in what ways the ascendant discipline of genetic history is relevant, and to pinpoint both the potentials and the pitfalls of the field. At the same time, we would like to raise the profile of the field within the humanities and cultural studies. We hope that the opportunity for communication between representatives of different disciplines will contribute to loosening up the widespread monodisciplinary method of working and, in particular, bring together the relevant scientific and cultural streams of research.
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As the field of genetic history has grown, academic interest in migration, peoples and ethnic identities has also grown apace. The people of the British Isles have been a focus of research in this area. Specifically, researchers have been fishing for Vikings in the gene pool. My paper begins, therefore, with some brief remarks on the etymology of the term »Viking«, its historical usage and the reception of Vikings in modern times. I address practices of naming as well as the role of romanticization and mythologization as constituents of the popular image of »the Vikings«. The discussion makes it apparent that the term »Viking« has a wide variety of associations and that behind the shared designation, which functions as a kind of semantic shorthand, lie many relationships that have yet to be studied. For that reason, in a second step, this paper outlines what are, in some cases, the greatly diverging conceptualizations of time, space, mobility and identity on which archaeological and genetic interpretations are based. I discuss in particular the problem posed by the essentialization of archaeological subjects as well as the »naturalization« of protagonists of historiographical narratives and their equation with historical actors. Finally, I address the dangers associated with identity politics, which go on both outside the academic discourse and within academia itself. Our duty now is to steer clear of mere battles over the prerogatives of interpretation. Instead, we must cultivate academic and political reflexivity, as well as mutual acceptance. Only by doing so will we be able to explore questions – and they are important questions – concerning the constitution and historicization of identities, interactions among migrations, mobility and identity, and about the relationships between biological and social reproduction.
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Die Wirkung der Evolutionstheorie auf die wissenschaftliche Betrachtung der biologischen und kulturellen Geschichte der Menschheit und ihrer Varietäten muss vor dem Hintergrund vorevolutionärer Konzepte betrachtet werden. Dabei sind insbesondere die Gegentheorien des Monogenismus und Polygenismus sowie das Bild der Kette der Lebewesen relevant. Sie reichen in der Geschichte weit zurück. Die Genealogie der Menschheit wurde im Mittelalter gemäß der Genesis von den Söhnen Noahs abgeleitet. Im Zuge der frühneuzeitlichen Begegnungen mit dem nicht-christlichen Westafrika und den Heiden der Neuen Welt wurden die Stämme Japhets, Shems und Hams konsequent mit den Bewohnern der Erdteile Europa, Asien und Afrika identifiziert. Die »Entdeckung« der Amerinder fügte eine weitere Menschenvarietät hinzu. Sie führte zu einer polygenetischen Theorie, die der dominanten Annahme einer einheitlichen Schöpfung des Menschen widersprach. Isaac La Peyrère wagte nämlich die Hypothese, dass es sich bei den Amerindern um die Abkömmlinge einer ersten Schöpfung Gottes handle — um Präadamiten (Praeadamitae, 1655).
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Wissenschaftliche Sammlungen können als ein gezieltes, systematisches Zusammentragen von Erkenntnissen zu einem bestimmten Thema verstanden werden. Das Sammeln wird aber auch als ein ungerichteter Prozess beschrieben, der immer dann einsetzt, wenn ein interessantes Bearbeitungsfeld erst erkannt und noch nicht übersehen wird. Schließlich hält eine bestehende Sammlung ein unbestimmbares Maß an Kontingenz bereit, das zu neuen Forschungsbereichen führen kann (te Heesen/Spary 2001, 7–21).
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The scientific research under consideration in this essay has many disciplinary roots. It also has several names, such as anthropological genetics or genetic anthropology. As early as 1962, prior to the possibility of sequencing DNA, the biochemist Emile Zuckerkandl introduced the term ‘molecular anthropology’ to characterize the study of primate phylogeny and human evolution at the molecular level (Sommer, 2008). Since then, the ‘revolution’ in DNA and information technologies has made it possible to use DNA markers to study the processes of evolution, to map genes and genomes, and to reconstruct the human diaspora. In this last aspect, genetic anthropology or genetic history studies the relationship between population history and genetic variation in humans. It investigates the human ‘family tree’ and tries to ‘map’ it onto the globe. It is thus concerned with a special sub-set of biohistories — those based on DNA analyses. Through the global initiatives of the Human Genome Diversity Project and its successor, the Genographic Project, the field has gained public attention. These projects seek to reconstruct the migratory history of the entire human species through the collection of DNA samples from indigenous populations worldwide. The DNA databanks should allow scientists to identify genetic markers that appear with different frequencies in different populations and therefore allow insights into the genetic relationships and movements of human groups.
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Europe has often been imagined as the cradle of modern science and knowledge production. It is therefore not surprising that in the context of the European Union and its research agenda, the notion of a knowledge-based society has become a central focus. In fact, infusing knowledge production with Europeanness, on the one hand, and basing notions of Europe on knowledge, on the other, can been seen as two sides of the same coin: the Europeanization of knowledge production.
Article
This article explores the way notions of race and ancestral origins are constructed in recent research in population genetics. The author focuses on studies used in health care, in the criminal justice system, and in genetic history. The article demonstrates how contemporary genetic research employs preexisting categories pertaining to race and descent, and discusses what implications it has had for processes of identity construction.
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Taking the example of research on biological diversity in the 20th century, this article analyzes the social practices that are entailed in the emergence, stabilization, and circulation of scientific knowledge. It stresses that scientific knowledge also depends on processes of recognition and that very often a special aura is constructed that goes beyond what can be substantiated on a sheet technical level. We refer to this as "there-enchantment of science". The field of biological diversity offers particularly telling cases to demonstrate this dimension of knowledge production. In conclusion, a history of science and knowledge should thus take broader cultural and social factors into account not only as contexts of knowledge production but also as constitutive factors.
Article
This chapter discusses the genetic perspectives on ape and human evolution. The first genetic perspective on ape evolution and human evolution was put forth over 100 years ago. Two primary hypotheses have been put forth to explain modern human origins, multiregionalism and recent replacement. Molecular data have contributed enormously to the understanding of hominoid and hominin evolution. They provide information about how species are related, the timing of divergences and demographic history. The relative ease of determination of homology, compared to morphological traits, of molecular data, especially specific genomic regions such as Alu elements, makes phylogenetic inferences quite robust. With well-calibrated divergence points inferred from the better parts of the fossil record, molecular clock estimates for lineages with a poor fossil record can be made.
Article
The term applied history refers to genres of history that are located outside academic institutions and that are intended for a larger public and oriented toward markets and entertainment. But applied may also refer to the attempt of meeting the intellectual and practical needs of a society. Applied history encompasses a mixture of history for the people, history about people, and history by the people. Examples are historical novels and mythos-films, TV-documentaries and (picture) books about history, historical exhibitions, memorials, historical festivals and enactments, history parks, historical PC-games, and history marketing. An expert use of old and new media is central for an applied history that is often characterized by its multimedia properties, not least because media such as the internet allow for new forms of interactive history. © 2012 by Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. All rights reserved.
Article
This article is about ‘genogeographic’ maps produced by late-Soviet geneticists and published during post-Soviet time. It focuses on the visual and numerical techniques scientists used to project genetic data onto geographic space. Rather than discussing their representational character, I follow these visuals as ‘folded objects’, describing the layering and realigning of measurements and temporalities as well as the shifts in the practices and meanings of genetics. In the 1970s Soviet biological anthropologists transformed scattered data points by means of spatial statistics into visually coherent maps for a ‘genogeographical atlas’, by interpolating data for the entire USSR territory. Computer-aided modelling rendered ‘populations’ as systemic entities and enacted specific cybernetic versions of population, evolution and difference. Tracing the history of their making helps one in understanding what these folded objects hold in store, in terms of data ranging from Russian imperial and colonial anthropology, through early Soviet traditions, to cold war technologies. Folded into those maps in intricate ways, they have co-shaped post-Soviet human genetics as an ever-active site for possible reinscriptions of difference.
Article
What Is Race? Evidence from Scientists (1952) is a picture book for schoolchildren published by UNESCO as part of its high-profile campaign on race. The 87-page, oblong, soft-cover booklet contains bold, semi-abstract, pared-down images accompanied by text, devised (so it declared) to make scientific concepts ‘more easily intelligible to the layman’. Produced by UNESCO’s Department of Mass Communication, the picture book represents the organization’s early-postwar confidence in the power of scientific knowledge as a social remedy and diplomatic tool. In keeping with a significant component of the race campaign, What Is Race? presented genetics as the route to an enlightened, scientific, non-prejudiced understanding of race. This article seeks to explain the book’s management, aesthetics and framing in the context of postwar disciplinary and international politics. Viewing UNESCO’s race campaign as a high point for an internationalist ideology of mass education, this article also analyses the visual and literary arguments of What Is Race? and proposes that the enduring image of genetics as technical and neutral knowledge was in part shaped by UNESCO’s efforts to communicate scientific authority to an apparently ‘popular’ audience.
Article
In this paper I track the history of post-1945 human genetics and genomics emphasizing the importance of ideas about risk to the scientific study and medical management of human heredity. Drawing on my own scholarship as it is refracted through important new work by other scholars both junior and senior, I explore how radiation risk and then later disease risk mattered to the development of genetics and genomics, particularly in the United States. In this context I excavate one of the central ironies of post-war human genetics: while studies of DNA as the origin and cause of diseases have been lavishly supported by public institutions and private investment around the world, the day-to-day labor of intensive clinical innovation has played a far more important role in the actual human experience of genetic disease and genetic risk for affected families. This has implications for the archival record, where clinical interactions are less readily accessible to historians. This paper then suggests that modern genomics grew out of radiation risk; that it was and remains a risk assessment science; that it is temporally embedded as a form of both prediction and historical reconstruction; and that it has become a big business focused more on risk and prediction (which can be readily marketed) than on effective clinical intervention.
Article
From the 1960s, mathematical and computational tools have been developed to arrive at human population trees from various kinds of serological and molecular data. Focusing on the work of the Italian-born population geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, I follow the practices of tree-building and mapping from the early blood-group studies to the current genetic admixture research. I argue that the visual language of the tree is paralleled in the narrative of the human diasporas, and I show how the tree was actually mapped onto the surface of the earth. This visual and textual structure is mirrored in the liberal discourse of unity in diversity that has been criticized as running counter to the socio-political effects of human population genetics. From this perspective, one may ask how far the phylogenetic diagram in its various forms is a manifestation of the physics of power that according to Michel Foucault consists in mechanisms that analyse distributions, movements, series, combinations, and that uses instruments to render visible, to register, to differentiate and to compare. It is one among other disciplinary technologies that ensure the ordering of human diversity. In the case of intra-human phylogenetic trees, population samples and labels are one issue. Another is that the separated branches seem to show groups of people, who have in reality been interacting and converging, as isolated. Often based on so-called isolated peoples, molecular tree diagrams freeze a hierarchical kinship system that is meant to represent a state before the great historical population movements.
Article
Before the rise of DNA sequence analysis or the controversies over the Human Genome Diversity Project, there was the International Biological Program, which ran from 1964 to 1974. The Human Adaptability arm of the International Biological Program featured a complex encounter between human geneticists and biological anthropologists. These scientists were especially interested in what could be learned from the bodies of people they referred to as both primitive and in danger of going extinct. In this article, I address how new access to technologies of cold storage, which would allow blood to be transported from the field to the lab and be stored for subsequent reanalysis, gave shape to this episode in Cold War human biology and has ramified into our genomic age. This case study highlights the importance of cryopreservation to projects of genetic salvage as well as to the life sciences, more generally. I argue that latency', a technical term initially used by cryobiologists to describe life in a state of suspended animation, can be extended as a concept for science studies scholars interested in technoscientific efforts to manage the future.
After WWII, physical anthropologists and human geneticists struggled hard to demonstrate distance from ‘racial science’ and ‘eugenics’. This was a crucial factor in the ‘revolution’ of physical anthropology in the 1950s, as contemporary accounts referred to it. My paper examines the apparent turn during this period from anthropometric measurements to blood-group analysis, and from ‘races’ to ‘small endogamous populations’, or ‘isolates’, as the unit of study. I demonstrate that anthropometry and blood-group analysis were used simultaneously and in the same research projects until the 1960s. Isolated populations were the new target groups of human population geneticists, from large continental groups to small village populations. Colonial infrastructures provided suitable conditions for these kinds of transnational research projects. I argue that this new framework helped to translate much of the content of earlier racial studies into a less attackable approach to human variation.
Article
In this paper I explore the various attempts to integrate anthropology—and anthropologists—within the wider synthesis of evolution in the interval of time between 1927 and 1962 by tracking intersecting individuals and groupings at critical junctures such as conferences, commemorative events, and collaborative publications. I focus on the discipline as a unit of historical analysis and on a series of rhetorical arguments used to discipline and bound areas of study that grounded the secular philosophy of evolutionary humanism. I trace the beginnings of an originary narrative and offer a kind of prehistory of what was first referred to as “human evolution” and then “biological anthropology,” an area of study that brought humans into the discipline of evolutionary biology. I examine the key roles played by “architects” of the evolutionary synthesis—such as Theodosius Dobzhansky, Julian Huxley, G. G. Simpson, and Ernst Mayr—and their relations with the anthropologists Sherwood Washburn, Ashley Montagu, and Sol Tax at pivotal meetings such as the Cold Spring Harbor meeting of 1950, the Darwin centennial at the University of Chicago in 1959, and a number of Wenner-Gren symposia culminating with the Burg Wartenstein symposium (no. 19) that saw the emergence of the new “molecular anthropology.”
Article
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All traces of evolutionary theories had been removed from the Spanish public sphere during the late stages of the Civil War and early Francoism. Darwin’s books were cleared from the shelves of libraries and bookshops and evolutionism was replaced by crea- tionism in primary and higher education manuals. In the public sphere, there was a mixture of concepts concerning evolution that were borrowed from different evolutionary theories, some of them outdated. Talking about evolution in the press meant talking in a nineteenth- century manner about the ape origin of man, materialism and threat to the Catholic faith. In other words, evolution was something unpleasant and dangerous. In this context, certain Spanish palaeontologists went to considerable lengths to try and avoid all of this bad popular imaginary (linking it to Darwinism), and to rehabilitate evolutionism from a finalistic-theistic point of view, which fitted in well with the ideology of the Franco regime. This effort, which succeeded in bringing evolutionism back into the public sphere following a period of «evo- lutionary silence», was relegated to second place when a new period of regime openness came about. The more scientific jargon of genetics and Modern Synthesis, which was less conducive to origins and theological discussion, fitted in better with the aims of the new regime, thus changing public scientific authority from bones to genes. This paper highlights the ongoing process of the appropriation of evolutionary theory through the case study of the presence and treatment during Francoism of the theory of evolution in the Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia Española.
Article
Sequence comparison algorithms are sophisticated pieces of software that compare and match identical or similar regions of DNA, RNA, or protein sequence. This paper examines the origins and development of these algorithms from the 1960s to the 1990s. By treating this software as a kind of scientific instrument used to examine sets of biological objects, the paper shows how algorithms have been used as different sorts of tools and appropriated for different sorts of uses according to the disciplinary context in which they were deployed. These particular uses have made sequences themselves into different kinds of objects.
Article
Full-text available
This volume is an informal account of the known paleoanthropological discoveries and associated historical information up to 1995. Aside from the academic facts, the book also includes descriptions of interactions between specialists in physical anthropology and evolutionary biology. The data is well-presented and situated within a general historical perspective comprising some famous debates, controversies, and hoaxes in human evolutionary studies. There are 17 chapters including Before Darwin; Darwin and After; Pithecanthropus; The Early Twentieth Century; Out of Africa …; … Always Something New; The Synthesis; Olduvai Gorge; Rama's Ape Meets the Mighty Molecule; Omo and Turkana; Hadar, Lucy, and Laetoli; Theory Intrudes; Eurasia and Africa: Odds and Ends; Turkana and Olduvai—Again; The Cave-Man Vanishes; Candelabras and Continuity; and, Where are We? Preceded by a list of abbreviations, the chapters are followed by an epilogue, bibliography, and index. The first six chapters collectively represent the history of the discipline from its humble origins up until the 1940s. These chapters adequately mention such famous figures as Lamarck, Darwin, and Gould (among others) and the impacts of their views on (human) evolutionary studies and hominin phylogeny. In fact, the chapter titles are succinct (e.g. Before Darwin, Darwin and After, The Early Twentieth Century) and quite transparent about their respective contents. Such concepts as punctuated equilibrium and the recognition or definition of individual hominin species are discussed. Chapter One is crucial in that it introduces the topic and establishes the intellectual and philosophical backdrop for the subsequent chapters. Chapter Two discusses the evolutionary concepts devised by Darwin and also outlines the development of lithic analyses and the recognition of technological change by the earlier scholars. In Chapter Three, Tattersall introduces the fossil evidence from Java as initially reported by Dubois and explains the reasons for why Asia was considered to be the 'cradle of human evolution' during the later parts of the 19th century. Chapters Four and Five comprise a discussion on the evidence from Europe and other sites outside of Africa. An important feature is the mention of the Piltdown hoax and other sensitive issues of the time. In Chapter Six, the author goes back in time and discusses the discoveries made in relation to pre-Homo species. Important specimens from both South and East Africa are discussed in relation to their interpretations at the time. The second half of the same chapter highlights the discoveries made during the early part of the 20th century, including Neandertals and archaic H. sapiens. After the lengthy historical narrative, Tattersall turns, in Chapter Seven, to the status of paleoanthropology during the middle of the 20th century. In characteristic 'Tattersall' style, this chapter presents a unique and easily-readable description of the academic situation from 1940 to the 1990s (or the modern Synthesis of evolutionary thought in relation to concepts established by Dobzhansky and Mayr). Another focus of Chapter Seven is the advent and utilization of more modern techniques (e.g., radiocarbon dating) by researchers, and the resulting data (dates).
Book
Where did modern humans come from and how important are the biological differences among us? Are we descended from Neanderthals? How many races of people are there? Were Native Americans the first settlers of the New World? How can we tell if Thomas Jefferson had a child with Sally Hemings? Through an engaging examination of issues such as these, and using non-technical language, Reflections of Our Past shows how anthropologists use genetic information to test theories and define possible answers to fundamental questions in human history. By looking at genetic variation in the world today, we can reconstruct the recent and remote events and processes that created the variation we see, providing a fascinating reflection of our genetic past. Reflections of Our Pastis a W. W. Howells Book Prize Winner and Choice Outstanding Academic Title.
Book
The conventional wisdom in contemporary social science claims that human races are not biologically valid categories. Many argue the very words '?race? and ?racial differences? should be abolished because they support racism. In Race, Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele challenge both these tenets. First, they cite the historical record, the art and literature of other civilizations and cultures, morphological studies, cognitive psychology, and the latest research in medical genetics, forensics, and the human genome to demonstrate that racial differences are not trivial, but very real. They conclude with the paradox that, while, scientific honesty requires forthright recognition of racial differences, public policy should not recognize racial-group membership. The evidence and issues raised in this book will be of critical interest to students of race in behavioral and political science, medicine, and law.
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In 1962 at the Burg Wartenstein Symposium on "Classification and Human Evolution," Emile Zuckerkandl used the term "molecular anthropology" to characterize the study of primate phylogeny and human evolution through the genetic information contained in proteins and polynucleotides. Since that time, our knowledge of molecular evolution in primates and other organisms has grown considerably. The present volume examines this knowledge especially as it relates to the phyletic position of Homo sapiens in the order Primates and to the trends which shaped the direction of human evolution. Participants from the disciplines of protein and nucleotide chemistry, genetics, statistics, paleon­ tology, and physical anthropology held cross-disciplinary discussions and argued some of the major issues of molecular anthropology and the data upon which these arguments rest. Chief among these were the molecular clock controversy in hominoid evolution; the molecular evidence on phylogenetic relationships among primates; the evolution of gene expression regulation in primates; the relationship of fossil and molecular data in the Anthropoidea and other pri­ mates; the interpretation of the adaptive significance of evolutionary changes; and, finally, the impact on mankind of studies in molecular anthropology. Most of the papers in this volume were presented in a preliminary form at Symposium No. 65 on "Progress in Molecular Anthropology" held at Burg Wartenstein, Austria, from July 25 to August 1, 1975. These papers were subsequently revised and some additional papers related to the theme of the symposium were also contributed to this volume.
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Since the first living organisms appeared on the earth, the genetic information contained in genes in the form of DNA has been successfully transmitted from generation to generation, up to the present time. It is thought that these genes evolve through the process of mutation and natural selection, resulting in the diversity of organisms in the world. Assuming that the innumerable organisms now existing on the earth evolved from one source, what was the mechanism that gave rise to this diversity?
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In his theory of self-reproducing automata, von Neumann (1966) begins with the concept of complexity as a given primitive notion. Von Neumann, with creative original work to his credit in quantum theory, theory of operators, ergodic theory, and many other areas of pure mathematics, was well versed in the art of beginning with an axiom, definition, or primitive notion as given and deducing its consequences rigorously. He did not hesitate to begin with the axiomatic observation that today’s organisms are phylogenetically derived from ancestral forms which were much less complex.
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There is an interesting relationship between neutral mutations and the molecular clock. The theory of neutral mutations requires that the rate of fixation of a mutation be equal to the neutral mutation rate. Thus the fixation of neutral mutations should be clocklike, with each “tick” of the clock representing another fixation. Naturally the clock will not be metronomic but, like a radioactive clock, stochastic, with fixation events in the unit time interval showing a Poisson distribution. Although a test of the clock hypothesis is a test of the neutral hypothesis, the existence of a clock does not depend on the correctness of the neutral hypothesis (see also Sarich and Cronin, this volume). This has resulted in past confusion. In a similar fashion, the covarion (concomitantly variable codons) concept (Fitch and Markowitz, 1970) is also independent of the correctness of the neutral hypothesis. We shall consider in turn a statistical model to test evolutionary rates, the results of that test, a comparison of our estimated rates with those from other sources, and some problems in testing evolutionary clocks.
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The mutation process provides all the genetic variants from which evolution selects the most useful in order to produce the present-day diversity of living organisms. Until recently, evolution theoreticians have taken mutation more or less for granted, concentrating mainly on the theory of natural selection. The founders of the concept of molecular evolution on the one hand and Kimura (1968) with his theory of neutrality on the other have directed the interest of theoreticians toward mutation again. In view of the considerable amount of experimental work with different species, one would expect that theories in this field should be backed by a very detailed knowledge of the conditions under which mutations occur in nature. Surprisingly, however, this is not the case: most experimental work has been done on mutations which were induced either by ionizing radiation or by chemical compounds. From this type of work, only very limited information can be gained concerning spontaneous mutation. In addition, such research is usually carried out more or less as a sideline of other work. Molecular biology has taught us that the observed mutations, even if they can be traced down to the level of the polypeptide chain, are the end result of a complex interaction of primary events which are under genetic control. We should also consider the primary changes in the DNA, the probability of which depends on metabolic differences, the efficiency of polymerases, etc. How many of these changes will finally become visible as mutations depends on the efficiency of repair processes. However, polymerases, as well as repair processes, are under genetic control (cf. Drake, 1973).
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I will discuss the usefulness of approaching an understanding of evolution through a conceptual analysis of the random and nonrandom processes which occur at the molecular level of proteins and nucleic acids, rather than volunteer an exposition of mathematical methodology available elsewhere in the literature. A qualitatively incorrect concept, however mathematically transformed and quantified, remains biologically uninformative. A correct concept, even though imperfectly quantified, is at least useful; the quantitation can be improved as additional data and insight permit. With cautious optimism, Vogel et al. (this volume) state: “the prospects may not be so poor, provided that we do not expect to develop a final and altogether perfect concept. Our model should be refined step by step. After the first few steps, the picture admittedly may still be oversimplified, but at least the most obvious flaws of the old one are corrected.” On the other hand, the known facts are not likely to be accounted for by an arbitrary choice of model. The evolutionary model presented here embodies both selective (i. e., deterministic) and probabilistic evolutionary mechanisms; it reasonably accounts, both qualitatively and quantitatively, for both the observed random and nonrandom and the Darwinian and selectively neutral patterns of protein and nucleic acid variation. The values for evolutionary divergence between species which were calculated from this model when it was first published in 1972 (Holmquist et al., 1972; Jukes and Holmquist, 1972a) were at that time 2–4 times higher than the values then considered correct.
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Evolutionists have turned to molecular studies because nucleic acids are genetic substances that carry evolving organisms from one cell generation to the next, and protein molecules are the mirrored reflection of some of the structure of these nucleic acids.
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The DNA of a species documents its evolutionary history. For this reason, the analysis of DNA is of fundamental interest to the science of anthropology. Moreover, an understanding of how DNA evolves contains valuable clues to its functions, a point which is becoming increasingly apparent to molecular biologists. Thus the two sciences converge to their mutual benefit.
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Structural genes and their products have captured much of the attention of a number of contributors to this volume on molecular anthropology. It seems to me that, in addition, we must not fail to discuss the role of gene regulation and of genetic regulatory networks in evolution, in particular with respect to conditions that paved the way to man.
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All modern classifications of the Primates are based to one degree or another on concepts concerning the phylogeny of the order. The widely used approach of Simpson (1945) in emphasizing grades of evolutionary development divides the Primates into suborders Prosimii and Anthropoidea. Prosimii consists of small-brained primates arranged serially into the infraorders Lemuriformes (Malagasy lemurs), Lorisiformes (lorises), and Tarsiiformes (tarsiers). Tree shrews can also be included at the base of Prosimii either as the first taxon in Lemuriformes or as the separate infraorder Tupaiiformes. In turn, Anthropoidea consists of large-brained primates arranged into the superfamilies Ceboidea (New World monkeys), Cercopithecoidea (Old World monkeys), and Hominoidea (the manlike apes and man). In this scheme, Anthropoidea is the younger of the two suborders, and any fossil primates considered to be ances¬tral to Anthropoidea are placed in Prosimii if they show small brains and other primitive features. To the extent that the anthropoid grade was reached independendy in different lineages, Simpson’s Prosimii and Anthropoidea are both polyphyletic assemblages.
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We have previously (Romero-Herrera et al., 1973) sought to combine evidence from the myoglobin sequences of 18 mammals with a phylogenetic pattern based on zoological evidence. By minimizing the number of mutations, we constructed a cladogram showing the possible Molecular evolution of myoglobin and generated a hypothetical myoglobin chain for a mammalian common ancestor. We proposed that the term “average” rate is more appropriate than “constant” rate, in the context of Molecular evolution. Our phylogenetic pattern was based on the fossil record, and when the available evidence did not resolve the sequence of successive dichotomies the branching points were superimposed and shown as a trichotomy. The evidence from myoglobin resolved these trichotomies in a pattern that would be acceptable to comparative anatomists.
Article
The carbonic anhydrases are especially well suited for studies on molecular evolution for a variety of reasons: (1) In many mammals, two isozymes of carbonic anhydrase which appear to be products of two closely linked genes are present in the red cells. (2) They are able to incorporate mutational changes at relatively rapid rates. (3) They can be readily isolated in pure form from hemolysates. (4) They appear to be involved in a variety of important physiological functions where their specific catalytic role is the interconversion of CO2 and HCO 3-. For reviews, see Lindskog et al. (1971) and Tashian and Carter (1976).
Article
Ancestry tells a people's story in narrative form and offers a sense of identity meaning. Disparate narratives, such as those of African American ancestry and genealogy, lead to an incomplete story and fragmented identity. Most African Americans know little about their African ancestry and are unable to identify with their ancestral homeland or specific indigenous African community. In fact, many African Americans learn and come to view their history as starting during slavery in the Americas. Arguably, the identity of enslaved Africans was largely determined by his or her master (Lovejoy, 1983; Ball, 1998; Curtin, 1990). As a result, over time there have been major implications that have evolved related to the social and psychological consciousness of descendants of enslaved Africans. This type of void or disconnect in ancestry is common among African Americans, but largely absent among other groups in America. For instance, white Americans have considerable latitude in choosing ethnic identities based on ancestry. Since many whites have known mixed ancestries, from Europe, they have the choice to select from multiple ancestries. For African Americans there is but one option in choosing ethnicity-black (Nagel, 1994).
Article
Phylogeny is the study of the real genealogical relationship of taxa. It is not fully knowable. Phylogenetic trees combine information from fossil forms, from living species, from dating, from anatomy, and from chemistry, but none of these fields can stand alone in reconstructing phylogeny. Neither dendrograms grouping extrapolated dates of dichotomies with present-day species nor phylogenetic trees including only fossil forms placed on noncommittal side branches are adequate. Molecular biology can be seen as one field contributing to the understanding of phylogeny, but in no sense should it be viewed as overthrowing or supplanting the evidence from other disciplines. Dendrograms with branch-point dates extrapolated from presently living species can contribute to understanding phylogeny in some cases, but such charts are devoid of historical content, that is, the names, the nature, and the way of life of the fossil forms themselves. In addition, many splitting-time dendrograms, for primates at least, bear little relation to the record left by extinct members of this order. A definite problem exists in resolving these two major sorts of approaches.
Chapter
This chapter is concerned with some of the difficulties encountered when trying to establish divergence times from the fossil record. I have not presented much of the evidence for the divergence dates postulated here, but I have given reference to new discoveries made since the publication of Simons’ 1972 review. The problems to be faced include relevant evolutionary models, the nature of the sedimentary and fossil records, ways of determining temporal sequences and actual dates of fossils, and the implications of paleogeographic reconstructions. The deductions that follow from these considerations are, at the very best, the nearest approximations to paleontological history that the record allows, or, at worst, just educated guesses. New finds often offer more than new interpretations of the material, and it is a peculiarity and one of the fascinations of paleontological inquiry that we are continually reassessing our notions with each successive new discovery.
Article
There is now a substantial body of molecular data on the genetic relationships of man and various primates to one another and to other animals. One of the ways to use these data is to deduce from them a phylogenetic classification or cladogram which describes the genealogical branchings of the order Primates. Such a framework for viewing the process of cladogenesis in primate phylogeny can provide an objective basis for a more detailed analysis of other processes underlying primate and human evolution. Like Emile Zuckerkandl (this volume), I consider anagenesis to be the principal process characterizing the emergence of man. Anagenesis is that form of progressive evolution which increases the level of molecular organization within organisms in such a way that the organisms gain greater independence from, and control over, the environment. Whereas Zuckerkandl emphasizes that aspect of anagenesis which accelerated evolutionary rates, I shall emphasize that aspect which decelerated evolutionary rates in proteins after higher levels of integration of molecular specificities had been achieved.
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In reconstructing hypothetical messenger RNA (mRNA) sequences which were contained in the ancestors of present-day species, we find ourselves in much the same predicament as Alice, sitting in a courtroom for the first time. Alice, who has never seen a judge before, has to infer that the man sitting before her with the “great wig” is a judge. He looks like a judge, so he must be a judge. In examining mRNA sequences from contemporary species (obtained by inference from amino acid sequences and the genetic code), we assume that when two sequences look alike they must be alike, in the sense of sharing a common ancestry. Similarity does not always imply common ancestry, but we assume that that reconstruction of hypothetical ancestors which maximizes the similarity due to common ancestry (and thus minimizes similarity due to parallel and back mutations) is the best reconstruction. This is known as the maximum parsimony hypothesis. Since the judge is really the King of Hearts, or Red King, we call this the Red King hypothesis (see Van Valen, 1974). In this chapter, I shall review the highlights of the proof for the current computer algorithm for reconstructing hypothetical mRNA sequence ancestors consistent with contemporary amino acid sequences and the Red King hypothesis.
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1980 saw the appointment of the distinguished physiologist, Sir Andrew Huxley, to the Presidency of the Royal Society in Britain and the joint award of the Nobel prize for physiology or medicine to three molecular biologists, Frederick Sanger, Paul Berg and Walter Gilbert for their various contributions to the practice of genetic manipulation. Huxley’s selection as the titular head of the British scientific establishment is evidence of its deep conservatism (1). The Nobel award illustrates where the newer fields of biology are now moving, towards lucrative and contentious industrial involvement, and the ruthless competition of corporate research. Even amongst this tiny group of rewarded scientists there are some striking contrasts. Huxley comes from an older discipline than molecular biology and is the scion of an established intellectual family. As a pure scientist at the head of an elite institution, he can draw upon a rich cultural vocabulary to reaffirm a traditional, seemingly autonomous role for science in resolute opposition to the economic imperative for change. Sanger, a Cambridge biochemist without a public identity except as the winner of a second Nobel prize, epitomizes productive research in a patrician academic context. On the other hand, Berg has shown more Zivilcourage and innovative skill in the politics of science by organizing an unprecedented moratorium on their new research field as an exercise in the management of public concern.
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Mitochondrial DNA was purified from four species of higher primates (Guinea baboon, rhesus macaque, guenon, and human) and digested with 11 restriction endonucleases. A cleavage map was constructed for the mitochondrial DNA of each species. Comparison of the maps, aligned with respect to the origin and direction of DNA replication, revealed that the species differ from one another at most of the cleavage sites. The degree of divergence in nucleotide sequence at these sites was calculated from the fraction of cleavage sites shared by each pair of species. By plotting the degree of divergence in mitochondrial DNA against time of divergence, the rate of base substitution could be calculated from the initial slope of the curve. The value obtained, 0.02 substitutions per base pair per million years, was compared with the value for single-copy nuclear DNA. The rate of evolution of the mitochondrial genome appears to exceed that of the single-copy fraction of the nuclear genome by a factor of about 10. This high rate may be due, in part, to an elevated rate of mutation in mitochondrial DNA. Because of the high rate of evolution, mitochondrial DNA is likely to be an extremely useful molecule to employ for high-resolution analysis of the evolutionary process.
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In Darwinism's Struggle for Survival Jean Gayon offers a philosophical interpretation of the history of theoretical Darwinism. He begins by examining the different forms taken by the hypothesis of natural selection in the nineteenth century (Darwin, Wallace, Galton) and the major difficulties that it encountered, particularly with regard to its compatibility with the theory of heredity. He then shows how these difficulties were overcome during the seventy years that followed the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, and he concludes by analyzing the major features of the genetic theory of natural selection, as it developed from 1920 to 1960. This rich and wide-ranging study will appeal to philosophers and historians of science and to evolutionary biologists.
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Most evolutionary change in proteins may be due to neutral mutations and genetic drift.
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It is fashionable to interpret a new result as requiring a change in our fundamental beliefs, in Darwinism in this case. The advantage of this is that it does bring the result more quickly to our attention. The disadvantage is that those in the establishment may react as if there really is a challenge to those fundamental beliefs, even when there is none. I believe that the current challenges are not real challenges to fundamentals. That proposition depends upon the meaning of fundamental, but if Darwinism is the gradual transformation of a species over time by the forces of selection operating on the genetic variability in the population, then it is reasonable to assert that: 1) Neutralism doesn't challenge Darwinism, only its exclusive dominion over all change. 2) Molecular Lamarckism misconstrues the slogan of the inheritance of acquired characters. 3) The previous expansion of our knowledge and theory (such as genes and mutation) is not a change in the fundamentals of Darwinism. 4) Changing our associated metaphysical beliefs isn't either. 5) The recognition of the incompleteness of neo-Darwinism indeed provides a challenge (as the paleontological record exemplifies), but not yet to Darwin's fundamental concepts.
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Excerpt INTRODUCTION According to modern concepts, the deoxynucleotide sequence which constitutes a gene participates in two distinct chemical processes. In the first, for which the term replication should be reserved, free deoxyribonucleotides are linearly assembled by specific base-pairings, forming an identical sequence or replica of the original sequence; the second process, which we shall call transcription, allows the gene to perform its physiological function, i.e., to specify the molecular structure of a certain protein or polypeptide chain. Transcription does not appear to be a direct process, since it most probably involves the formation of an intermediate as carrier of the genetic information. Two stages may then be distinguished in transcription, the first of which is presumably closely similar to replication, involving, however, ribonucleotides instead of deoxynucleotides, and resulting in an RNA “transcript” of the original DNA sequence. In the second transcription stage, the RNA transcript in turn directs the assembly of...
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The best estimates of dates of divergence of major, present day primate groups based on paleontological and anatomical evidence differ from explicit or implied dates based on biochemical data. In this paper the paleontological evidence for dating the hominoid lineages leading to the Hylobatidae (gibbons and siamangs) and to Gorilla and Homo is presented. The dates of divergence based on paleontological data differ from those based on biochemical data by at most a factor of five. The discrepancy between the sets of dates can therefore be resolved by variation by a factor of at most five in the rate of protein evolution. The biochemical technique used to estimate dates of divergence of taxonomic groups measures the similarity of molecules. it is phenetic rather than phyletic. As time since divergence increases, phenetic comparisons increasingly underestimate the total amount of evolution that has occurred since divergence. Phenetic approaches to sequence data do not detect parallel fixations, fixations of back mutations, or alternative routes of fixing amino acid substitutions. The frequency distribution of fixations per codon, when these are phenetically inferred, can be well described by means of a Poisson distribution if the zero fixation category is adjusted to an optimal value. This suggests that molecular evolutionary events are equally likely to occur, and that protein evolution should occur at a constant rate. The frequency distribution of phyletically inferred fixations per codon, however, cannot be well described by a single Poisson distribution, even when the zero fixation category is adjusted. This suggests, as does a considerable body of other data, that molecular evolutionary events are not equally likely, and that rates of evolution of proteins may be expected to vary. Estimated dates of divergence older than dates used to calibrate phenetically based estimates tend to be too young, while dates younger than calibration dates tend to be too old. Dates of divergence of primate groups based on phenetic comparisons, if corrected for this effect, conflict with the best documented part of the primate fossil record, the later Hominidae, not with the less well established parts. It therefore seems prudent to accept the best paleontological dates for divergence of major primate taxa rather than to question them on the basis of the biochemical data. Branching sequences determined on the basis of biochemical data appear to be relatively reliable, but even these must be considered with caution.
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The Bulletin's prevailing concern is with dangers to human well being and even survival that have scientific-technological roots or ingredients and seldom any self-evident solutions. By implication, scientific research itself may sometimes be projected more as threat than promise. At the same time, current legislative challenges to the teaching of evolutionary science by “creation scientists” may indicate a lack of widespread public understanding of the difference between the creed of science and other kinds of creeds. Professor Sherwood L. Washburn speaks indirectly, but eloquently to both of these issues.It is difficult for non-specialists to form an impression of how, and how much, progress occurs in most scientific research. The overall pace of the advance is easily obscured by multiplying new discoveries, new questions and new methods. Among them often are false leads that for a time set unproductive directions. To convey the zigzag path of accomplishment across decades as a vivid, intelligible pattern is a rare gift, one that gives meaning to science itself as a cumulative, self-correcting enterprise. Professor Washburn has that gift.
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BIOLOGY has evidently borrowed the terms “heredity” and “inheritance” from everyday language, in which the meaning of these words is the “transmission” of money or things, rights or duties—or even ideas and knowledge —from one person to another or to some others: the “heirs” or “inheritors.”