Article ID: CBB741535509

Entanglements of Time, Temperature, Technology, and Place in Ancient DNA Research: The Case of the Denisovan Hominin (2020)


The study of ancient DNA (aDNA) has gained increasing attention in science and society as a tool for tracing hominin evolution. While aDNA research overlaps with the history of population genetics, it embodies a specific configuration of technology, temporality, temperature, and place that, this article suggests, cannot be fully unpacked with existing science and technology studies approaches to population genetics. This article explores this configuration through the 2010 discovery of the Denisovan hominin based on aDNA retrieved from a finger bone and tooth in Siberia. The analysis explores how the Denisovan was enacted as a technoscientific object through the cool and even temperatures of Denisova Cave, assumptions about the connection between individual and population, the status of populations as evolutionary entities, and underlying colonialist and imperialist imaginaries of Siberia and Melanesia. The analysis sheds light on how aDNA research is changing the parameters within which evolutionary history is imagined and conceptualized. Through the case study, it also outlines some ways in which the specific technoscientific and cultural entanglements of aDNA can be critically explored.

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Authors & Contributors
Radin, Joanna M.
Kowal, Emma
Bauduer, Frédéric
Cohen, Claudine
Duyker, Edward
Jackson, Myles W.
Social Studies of Science
Science, Technology, and Human Values
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Histoire des Sciences Médicales
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Princeton University
Indiana University
Duke University Press
Éditions du Seuil
MIT Press
Otago University Press
Science and technology studies (STS)
Human evolution
Science and race
Dumont d'Urville, Jules Sébastien Cézar
Foucault, Michel
Habermas, Jürgen
Time Periods
21st century
19th century
20th century
20th century, late
Siberia (Russia)
New Zealand
Polar regions
Harvard University
Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules (1975)
Science for the People (SftP)

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