A Lab of Their Own: Genomic sovereignty as postcolonial science policy

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This paper analyzes the emergence of 'genomic sovereignty' policies as a newly popular way for postcolonial countries to frame their investment in genomics. It identifies three strands in the genealogy of this policy arena-the International Haplotype Mapping Project as a model and foil for postcolonial genomics; an emerging public health genomics field which stands in contrast to Western pursuits of personalized medicine; and North American drug companies increased focus on ethnic drug markets. I conceptualize postcolonial genomics as a nationalist project with contradictory tendencies-unifying and differentiating a diverse body politic, cultivating national scientific and commercial autonomy and dependence upon global knowledge networks and foreign capital. It argues that the 'strategic calibration' of socio-political versus biological taxonomies in postcolonial genomics creates two primary challenges for this arena, which I refer to heuristically as dilemmas of mapping and marketing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-355
Number of pages15
JournalPolicy and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Political Science and International Relations


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