Preface
Thaps
he roots underlying the project that gave rise to this book— in a way per-
befitting the subject matter— go back a long way. As a postdoctoral
researcher doing fieldwork in Colombia in the mid-1980s, Peter Wade first
encountered Eduardo Restrepo, who was an undergraduate at the time. The
meeting was the beginning of a long series of encounters over the next few de-
cades. Not long after, while doing his doctorate in the United Kingdom, Carlos
López Beltrán got to know Peter Wade in Cambridge, via a mutual Mexican
friend, Alfonso Martín del Campo. After a long hiatus, their acquaintance was
renewed at a conference on populations of African origin held in Veracruz in
2008, at a time when López Beltrán, along with his colleague Francisco Ver-
gara Silva, had already been writing about the Mexican genome project. In the
meantime, Ricardo Ventura Santos had sent Wade a copy of the article he co-
authored and published in Critique of Anthropology (2004) on race and genomics
in Brazil. So when Wade began to tinker with the idea of a project on genomics
and race in Latin America, the infrastructure of the collaborations was already
in place, transnational in scope and crossing the disciplinary boundaries of
social anthropology, cultural studies, the history and philosophy of science,
and biological anthropology.
Luckily, our timing was right and the project met with favorable reactions
from the Economic and Social Research Council, United Kingdom, which
agreed to fund the research for eighteen months (grant res-062-23-1914). The
funding included salaries for three postdoctoral researchers, to be based at
the University of Manchester (María Fernanda Olarte Sierra, Michael Kent, and
Vivette García Deister), and three part- time research assistants, to be hired in
each of the three Latin American countries (Adriana Díaz del Castillo, Mariana
Rios Sandoval, and Verlan Valle Gaspar Neto). We also had money to fund a
number of project workshops and we were very glad to have the Mexican biol-
ogist Francisco Vergara Silva as a constant companion in these meetings.
After an initial three months of preparation in Manchester, fieldwork was
carried out in Latin America for nine months, mainly by the postdocs and, as
it turned out, the local research assistants. This work focused on the geneti-
cists and their laboratories and involved participant observation in the labs,
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