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Research

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Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin

Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Anthropology
Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences

Contact Dr Ernesto Schwartz-Marin

Biography

The relations and dynamics between truth making, genetic science and notions of nation, ethnicity and race have been my central focus of interest and research. In 2006 when I first engaged with 'Genomics in Society' I had just recently read “Rules for the Human Zoo: a response to the Letter on Humanism” by Peter Sloterdijk (2009[2001]), and I was so inspired by this paper that I decided to achieve a close ethnographic understanding of science, specifically the new genetics. Seven years afterwards I am still chasing socio-scientific practices around medical and forensic genetics.

I am particularly interested in the development of genomic and genetic projects in the global south, particularly in Latin America. Currently I am a CO-FUND Junior Research Fellow associated with the Anthropology Department and the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing. My project “Forensic Science and Nation Building in Latin America” examines the field of forensic science (specifically genetics and physical anthropology) and its relations with notions of ethnicity, race and nation building in a comparative perspective in Mexico and Colombia.

The two years of the fellowship will also serve to develop the second strand of my research interests that aims to understand the articulations between notions of kinship as enacted through forensic genetic research by the relatives of the disappeared and its links to hopes of national reparation and truth in both Mexico and Colombia. Emphasis is made on how the products of scientific endeavours are mobilised to produce order in contexts of uncertainty, impunity and extreme violence.

Previously I was a Research Associate in the international project “Public engagement with genomic research and race in Latin America” at the School of Social Anthropology of The University of Manchester. The Project was directed by Professor Peter Wade, and local co-applicants in Brazil (Prof. Ricardo Ventura Santos), Mexico (Prof. Carlos Lopez-Beltran) and Colombia (Prof. Eduardo Restrepo). As part of this project I have conducted extended fieldwork in Bogotá and Medellin (Colombia), researching the way in which different publics such as medics, legislators, forensic specialists and patient groups appropriate, and engage with, genomic knowledge.

I completed my MSc and PhD at EGENIS-ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society with the dissertation: ‘Genomic Sovereignty and the Mexican Genome: An ethnography of postcolonial biopolitics’, which explores the construction of a sovereign realm around human genomic science in Mexico, and its links with notions of race and nation. To complete my degree I spent 2 years conducting participant observation in the Ethical, Legal and Social Research (ELSI) Centre at the INMEGEN and the Population Genomics Laboratory (PGL), including semi-structured interviews with key actors in the Mexican genomics arena: policy-makers, genomic scientists, NGOs and public critical voices.

Research Groups

Department of Anthropology

Research Interests

  • Development of genomic and genetic projects
  • Genetic science
  • Latin America
  • Notions of nation, ethnicity and race

Publications

Chapter in book

  • Restrepo, E., Schwartz-Marín, E. & Cardenas, R. (2013). Nation and difference in the genetic imagination of Colombia. In Genomics, race mixture and nation in Latin America. Wade, P., Lopez Beltran, C. & Restrepo & Santos, R.V. Duke University Press.
  • Schwartz-Marín, E. (2011). Protegiendo el ‘Mextizaje’ INMEGEN y la Construcción de la Soberanía Genómica. In Genes (&) Mestizos. López-Beltrán, C. UNAM-IIF, Editorial Ficticia, México D.F. 155-184.

Journal Article