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The Enculturated GeneSickle Cell Health Politics and Biological Difference in West Africa$
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Duana Fullwiley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691123165

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691123165.001.0001

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Localized Biologies: Mapping Race and Sickle Cell Difference in French West Africa

Localized Biologies: Mapping Race and Sickle Cell Difference in French West Africa

(p.158) Chapter Five Localized Biologies: Mapping Race and Sickle Cell Difference in French West Africa
The Enculturated Gene

Duana Fullwiley

Princeton University Press

This chapter chronicles how, in the 1950s, sickle hemoglobin was tested in the blood of various Senegalese ethnic groups to determine the bounded nature of population-based race and ethnic groupings within the geopolitical terrain of French West Africa (l'Afrique Occidentale Française, the “AOF”). These colonial uses of sickle cell DNA markers to scientifically define group belonging were later interrupted by Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (RFLP) technology starting in the late 1970s. RFLPs allowed researchers to pinpoint DNA variants around the sickle cell gene and thus provided new ways of measuring and lumping human physiological distinction in terms of unified “national” genetic difference, which were based thereafter on haplotype patterns. In addition, this chapter chronicles how discourses of ethnic population purity continue to drive Parisian scientists' interests in new sickle cell research for which they hope to enlist Senegalese collaborators in the here and now.

Keywords:   sickle cell research, sickle cell DNA markers, Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism, RFLP, sickle cell gene, genetic difference, ethnic population purity

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