In this lecture, Alondra Nelson will explain how cutting-edge DNA-based genealogical techniques are being used in racial politics in myriad ways to grapple with the afterlife of racial slavery: to foster reconciliation, to establish ties with African ancestral homelands, to rethink and sometimes alter citizenship, and to make legal claims for reparations specifically based on ancestry. These reconciliation projects are cast against a historical backdrop of scientific racism and the myth of biological race as well as a contemporary politics of DNA-driven inequality in the criminal justice system.
Alondra Nelson is professor of sociology at Columbia University, where she has served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science and the Director of the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. On September 1, 2017, she will become President of the Social Science Research Council. Her books include The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome, which is a finalist for the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination, which was recognized with several awards.