GENETICS, ARCHAEOLOGY AND SOCIAL JUSTICE
Dr Wendy Black, Curator of Archaeology, Iziko Museums of South Africa
Debate about how and why population differences emerged are ongoing . Recent genetic work has aimed to answer these questions and results thus far demonstrate a much earlier influx of people into southern Africa from outlying regions . Recently, indigenous groups have approached museums and institutions to clarify research reasoning and findings . Increasingly, cultural identity studies and community inclusivity in research is becoming important because destructive analyses on human remains – DNA studies – are highly controversial . Deep racial issues linger and communities struggle to understand why scientific investigation is consistently chosen over cultural needs . Therefore, in conjunction with broad community consultation, Iziko Museums of South Africa has recently launched a project that aims to study cultural identities and the museum’s unethically collected human remains . Not only will results help to answer important questions about these individuals and our past, they will also be a positive force for reburial and repatriation efforts.
1. Ethics in human remains studies at museums
2. Genetics and human remains