The Descent of Men

Nadia Abu El-Haj

DNA

How is race configured in the practices of genetic anthropology? What, more specifically, are the continuities and discontinuities between the practices of genetic anthropologists today and those of race scientists of old? Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj will analyze the evidentiary logic of research into male-Jewish origins within the broader context of genetic anthropological research into population genealogies, specifically considering the relationships among history, nature and culture established in this work. If, as many philosophers and cultural critics have argued, conceptions of nature have long grounded our modern senses of self, what exactly have the characters of “nature” as it relates to history (or descent) and of “culture” produced within this field of research?

Nadia Abu El-Haj, Associate Professor of Anthropology at Barnard, joined the department in Fall 2002. Previously, she held fellowships at Harvard University’s Academy for International and Area Studies, the University of Pennsylvania Mellon Program, and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Her work examines the relationship between scientific knowledge and the making of social imaginations and political orders. She is a former Fulbright Fellow and a recipient of awards from the SSRC-McArthur Grant in International Peace and Security, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others. Prior to her arrival at Barnard she served on the faculty of the Anthropology Department at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society, now in its second printing. In 2002 this book won the Middle East Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Annual Book Award for the best book published on the Middle East that year.