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  Anthropology, Genetic Diversity, and Ethics  
 
  
A workshop at the Center for Twentieth Century Studies   
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee   
 
 
  
Session Two:
Discussion Group Reports

O'Rourke: In the interest of time, I'm going to run through the series of colors and ask whoever the representatives are from those groups to come up and make brief, quick summaries of their discussions, and let's start with the -- yeah, and then give Trudy the transparencies once you've finished your presentation.  Let's start with the color black. 

Black:  That's our group.  I wrote something on a transparency, but even I can't read it!  We had another really interesting conversation that didn't particularly lend itself to [inaudible]!  [laughter].  But I made up two, because we had to have something.  One was, we were wondering -- I was wondering, to be fair, but my colleagues seemed to think it was an interesting wonder -- what relevance, if any, the ancient DNA questions have to more recent historical uses of DNA, things like the relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings?  [laughter]  Or potentially digging up or taking some remains from Abe Lincoln to see if we had the genotype for Markhand's [sp?] Syndrome, or looking at remains to see whether they're the Czars?  To what extent should one seek permission from the descendants of those people for those issues; to what extent do dead people have privacy rights that should be respected in and of themselves?  And the ancient DNA questions, though they focused, by virtue of the time gap, on groups rather than individuals, I think are all part of the same big question about the past, and who owns it, to what extent can we in the present appropriate it? 

The second issue was talking about when is there concern about issues like working with ancient DNA, and we raised the issue, to what extent are there political and cultural differences in particular groups that make it an interesting -- make it a controversial and important issue in some contexts, as it clearly is with Native American groups, but may not make it as important in other contexts.  To what extent is this a universal conflict or issue, and to what extent is it an issue that only arises in particular political and cultural contexts?  So those are our two non-points.  [laughter] 

O'Rourke: The green group? 

Green:  Well, we also had a long and involved discussion that only at the end resolved itself quickly into points so that we would have something to say.  And we also touched on the Sally Hemings issue, and the fact that most, many of the problems and ethical issues that we see with the [inaudible], populations circling around the same sorts of problems in ancient DNA work as well.  So we sort of quickly went through what are some of the obvious pros: thinking of disease history, and looking at cases like [inaudible] to develop better vaccines, or the history of tuberculosis in the New World, and [inaudible] of that disease.  Obviously, cultural history,  origins, the history of group interactions [inaudible] are some of the potential benefits and interesting questions that we could examine.  Some of the obvious cons as far as we were concerned, although as someone pointed out, it could also be positive, was the idea of pulling all of this into political battles over relationships between skeletal remains and living groups, and how this could be used for land claims and ownership claims, things like that.  And also that it can challenge social identities and [inaudible].  And then we attempted in the two minutes that we walked over here, to think about how you would go about the collaborations and [inaudible], and that we should involved the participants, to the extent that you can identify them, and just make it an ongoing process, and [inaudible]. 

O'Rourke: The yellow group. 

Yellow: This, a lot of redundancy here.  We talked about the Czar, and we also talked about -- we had a, ours is mostly come down, besides these, we emphasized the whole problem of truly informed consent.  Who is the group to get it from, how is that best ascertained?  But we wanted to ask, in all this regard, about the Spirit Cave remains, and we presumed you knew something about this case.  But apparently, this is a case of a body -- what?  Can you answer that quickly? 

O'Rourke: Very quickly.  This is one of the dangers of [inaudible].  [laughter].  I understand that [inaudible], but I don't know which.  Rika may have more information about it. 

Kaestle: [inaudible] 

Yellow: Right.  There was a report, what we had was that Doug Ousley [sp?] said it was Ainu or Caucasoid, or something or other.  But the other issue is, just very quickly, the other issue is, it's in the -- apparently it was found on Paiute land, but it is the Nevada State Museum, and why isn't this covered rather simply under NAGPRA? 
Kaestle: [inaudible] 

Yellow: Okay. 

O'Rourke: Blue. 

Blue:  I am going to go [inaudible].  We actually had several sub-discussions going on at our small table, so although this one is what you were discussing at the very beginning, about problems brought up with the topic of Dennis' talk, that in fact what he's looking at is not populations, but lineages, and that that's important to define and discuss before any of this starts.  And then the next problem, of course, is going to be population identification.  Who -- how do you identify the population, and then how do you identify who you talk to?  And then we moved on to collaboration, and primarily collaboration means working together, with mutual respect between partners.  And [inaudible] was that how do you define, how do you identify, who, the population you are going to collaborate with?  How do you define a native or a member of that population the scientist, you're going to work with?  And then finally, something else that came up with Dennis' work was that a scientist can't always know what's going on internally within the population that you are collaborating with.  He had some experience with, didn't know there was internal conflict going on, and was working with one group, but they were not necessarily collaborating with other members of their population.  So you do the best that you can, but you can't always know what kind of impact you're having on the internal political or social system of the population. 

O'Rourke: The red group? 

Red:  Basically, at this point we don't have much to [inaudible].  We talked about Sally Hemings, and we talked about Abraham Lincoln; we didn't talk about the Czars!  [laughter]  Other than that, we also talked about the privacy rights of deceased individuals, which you already brought up, and that there's a risk of over-interpreting the results.  They seem to carry a lot of weight, and maybe a lot of [inaudible], and that some of these over-interpretations could be abused for self-serving ends, for example, it was brought up earlier, for land claims and [inaudible]. 

O'Rourke: And finally, the orange group. 

Orange: We talked about [inaudible], one [inaudible] that we talked about was that [inaudible].  And the other thing we talked about is that defining groups is sort of an innate human characteristic: we all do it.  We define ourselves [inaudible], and others, and we categorize that.  But it seems that in terms of power, we always end up getting [inaudible], and that's what happening in [inaudible], choosing to define [inaudible] the way the way to want to define them [inaudible].  And we didn't figure out any better way to [inaudible]. 

O'Rourke: I'd just like to say my ideas, [one of two ideas], based on experience, [inaudible] about collaborations ought to be [inaudible].  I at least want to ask you if, do we have time for general discussion, or should we adjourn and carry that on at the next venue? 

Turner: No, the bus is waiting.  Dinner tonight is at the Park East Hotel.  It starts at 7:00 but there's a cash bar beginning at 6:30, and [inaudible].  There's buses, and there are also -- there are people with cars here also.

 
 
 
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