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Genetic Indigenisation in “The People of the British Isles”

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Genetic Indigenisation in “The People of the British Isles”. / Fortier, Anne-Marie.

In: Science as Culture, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2012, p. 153-175.

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Fortier, Anne-Marie. / Genetic Indigenisation in “The People of the British Isles”. In: Science as Culture. 2012 ; Vol. 21, No. 2. pp. 153-175.

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@article{b68c4d9697b34eb0807b182c01a95314,
title = "Genetic Indigenisation in “The People of the British Isles”",
abstract = "In 2007, Channel 4 screened 'Face of Britain', a documentary about the genetic mapping of Britain. 'Face of Britain' promised to reveal {\textquoteleft}who we really are{\textquoteright} by tracing genetic links back to ancient Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. This article situates 'Face of Britain' within the wider racial and national politics that it is invariably caught up in, and examines how {\textquoteleft}race{\textquoteright} and racial thinking are reconfigured in ways that are both {\textquoteleft}old{\textquoteright} and {\textquoteleft}new{\textquoteright}. 'Face of Britain' constitutes an interesting case study to examine how ideas of indigeneity are produced and naturalised in scientific discourses and practices. Here, indigeneity is mobilised through three sub-narratives: the {\textquoteleft}vanishing indigene{\textquoteright}; the promise of facial recognition; and DNA and national relatedness. The analysis reveals how some people of the British Isles are naturalised as indigenous by virtue of their ancestral presence in this land through a combination of genetic and photographic technologies. In short, blood and soil are intertwined, with genes as mediators between ancestors and contemporary inhabitants of Britain. Furthermore, the invisible genetic connection is made visible through the creation of {\textquoteleft}average faces of Britain{\textquoteright}, which is considered here as a contemporary version of physiognomy. In conclusion, 'Face of Britain' testifies to the reconfiguration of {\textquoteleft}racial thinking{\textquoteright} in contemporary science, through what ultimately amounts to the genetic indigenisation of white Britons. Consequently, this study lends itself to racialised politics of land claims that resonate with, but are different from, indigenous politics in other contexts, namely with regards to the relationship to whiteness.",
keywords = "Genetic genealogies, nation formation , indigeneity, racism , physiognomy , Britain",
author = "Anne-Marie Fortier",
year = "2012",
doi = "10.1080/09505431.2011.586418",
language = "English",
volume = "21",
pages = "153--175",
journal = "Science as Culture",
issn = "0950-5431",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Genetic Indigenisation in “The People of the British Isles”

AU - Fortier, Anne-Marie

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - In 2007, Channel 4 screened 'Face of Britain', a documentary about the genetic mapping of Britain. 'Face of Britain' promised to reveal ‘who we really are’ by tracing genetic links back to ancient Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. This article situates 'Face of Britain' within the wider racial and national politics that it is invariably caught up in, and examines how ‘race’ and racial thinking are reconfigured in ways that are both ‘old’ and ‘new’. 'Face of Britain' constitutes an interesting case study to examine how ideas of indigeneity are produced and naturalised in scientific discourses and practices. Here, indigeneity is mobilised through three sub-narratives: the ‘vanishing indigene’; the promise of facial recognition; and DNA and national relatedness. The analysis reveals how some people of the British Isles are naturalised as indigenous by virtue of their ancestral presence in this land through a combination of genetic and photographic technologies. In short, blood and soil are intertwined, with genes as mediators between ancestors and contemporary inhabitants of Britain. Furthermore, the invisible genetic connection is made visible through the creation of ‘average faces of Britain’, which is considered here as a contemporary version of physiognomy. In conclusion, 'Face of Britain' testifies to the reconfiguration of ‘racial thinking’ in contemporary science, through what ultimately amounts to the genetic indigenisation of white Britons. Consequently, this study lends itself to racialised politics of land claims that resonate with, but are different from, indigenous politics in other contexts, namely with regards to the relationship to whiteness.

AB - In 2007, Channel 4 screened 'Face of Britain', a documentary about the genetic mapping of Britain. 'Face of Britain' promised to reveal ‘who we really are’ by tracing genetic links back to ancient Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. This article situates 'Face of Britain' within the wider racial and national politics that it is invariably caught up in, and examines how ‘race’ and racial thinking are reconfigured in ways that are both ‘old’ and ‘new’. 'Face of Britain' constitutes an interesting case study to examine how ideas of indigeneity are produced and naturalised in scientific discourses and practices. Here, indigeneity is mobilised through three sub-narratives: the ‘vanishing indigene’; the promise of facial recognition; and DNA and national relatedness. The analysis reveals how some people of the British Isles are naturalised as indigenous by virtue of their ancestral presence in this land through a combination of genetic and photographic technologies. In short, blood and soil are intertwined, with genes as mediators between ancestors and contemporary inhabitants of Britain. Furthermore, the invisible genetic connection is made visible through the creation of ‘average faces of Britain’, which is considered here as a contemporary version of physiognomy. In conclusion, 'Face of Britain' testifies to the reconfiguration of ‘racial thinking’ in contemporary science, through what ultimately amounts to the genetic indigenisation of white Britons. Consequently, this study lends itself to racialised politics of land claims that resonate with, but are different from, indigenous politics in other contexts, namely with regards to the relationship to whiteness.

KW - Genetic genealogies

KW - nation formation

KW - indigeneity

KW - racism

KW - physiognomy

KW - Britain

U2 - 10.1080/09505431.2011.586418

DO - 10.1080/09505431.2011.586418

M3 - Journal article

VL - 21

SP - 153

EP - 175

JO - Science as Culture

JF - Science as Culture

SN - 0950-5431

IS - 2

ER -