Race, Multiculturalism, and Genomics
in Latin America
Peter Wade
his conclusion tackles the broad questions raised by our research, as re-
in the previous chapters. Bearing in mind that our project focused
on a handful of laboratories and projects— and that even these presented
a good deal of diversity— in what follows I seek to draw out general conclu-
sions that emerge from our research. Are categories of race, ethnicity, nation,
region, and gender being revived, reproduced, refigured, deconstructed, or
abandoned; are they being regrounded in biology via genetics? What specific
reconfigurations do different types of genomic work produce? What does our
Latin American material have to say to the broader debates on genomics and
race (and ethnicity, nation, etc.)? Is something specific lent by the general
context of mestizaje as an ideology of national identity or are the processes at
work in the genomics labs and beyond them basically the same as those in
North America, Europe, and elsewhere? How does the knowledge of human
diversity produced by this kind of genomic research relate to state policies of
multiculturalist governance and to regimes of citizenship and power in these
Latin American nations, bearing in mind postcolonial preoccupations in these
countries with global, and especially hemispheric, positionings? What can
the process of comparison between Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico tell us and,
more broadly, what work is being done or implied by the very process of na-
tional comparisons? Does it make sense to treat Latin America as some kind of
unit in a global comparison? The aim in what follows is to draw on the detailed
material and arguments in the book to provide some answers— from the point
of view of our particular project and the labs we studied— to these questions.
Common and Enduring Concerns
As outlined in the introduction and part I, the concerns that genomic research
addresses are long- standing ones. First, in all three nations, elites have long
pondered the implications of being the product of mixture between Europe-
ans, Africans, and Amerindians, a trait that has been seen as both problem
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