Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation
Masolo, D. A.
Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)
human social identity; genetics; creations of culture; biological determinism; philosophy and society
The advent of DNA ancestry testing motivated a burst of human activities that constitute a scientific-technological-industrial-personal-social movement of immense scale, infused with epistemological and ethical questions of great and important variety. This movement has motivated many discourses in the social sciences, with study subjects ranging from the language usage of geneticists, to moral conundrums faced by test-takers, to potential ramifications in global structures of political power. At the same time, and especially in recent decades, the discourses of the comparative humanities have included with increasing frequency and urgency research and theorization about concepts and consequences of human social identities, alongside reasserting and developing long-standing questionings about the supreme dominance of the natural sciences in the determination of truth and reality.
The problematics that arise when we consider the definitions, boundaries, and intersections of human individual-personal and communal-social identities, impact not only how we understand ourselves and the nature or composition of society but have profound practical-applied impacts from the medical to the political. As I learned more about genetic ancestry testing and the movements in human society that it has enabled and inspired, my training as a philosophical humanist begged me to analyze these extant and arising problematics in other, or additional, ways.
This project involves the application of theory from both the humanities and the social sciences, in order to answer questions such as the following: How are the boundaries between different ancestral groups being drawn? Whose knowledges contribute to the determination of these boundaries? What dynamics of social power are present? Does the science that underlies genetic ancestry testing exhibit some of the same characteristics as earlier sciences now considered to be pseudoscientific and entrenched with scientific racisms, sexist and heteronormative patriarchies, xenophobic colonialisms, and other subjugative conceptualizations of human being and identity? On the contrary, what are the positives—towards the ends of knowledge of humanity and social justice for humanity—in all of this?
Carlisle Polley, Eve, "Unraveling DNA and identity: A humanistic perspective on epistemologies and ethics of genetic ancestry testing." (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 3981.
Applied Ethics Commons, Comparative Literature Commons, Comparative Philosophy Commons, Epistemology Commons, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Commons, Genetics and Genomics Commons, Intellectual History Commons, Philosophy of Science Commons, Race and Ethnicity Commons