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Unpacking race and ethnicity in African genomics research


In genomics, both the denomination ‘African’ as well at the ethnic groups living in Africa have been treated as true biological identities. Yet, similar to race, these population groupings too are social constructs. We argue that using African ethnicities as population categories in genomics research is uninformed and propose an Africa-oriented humanities research agenda to critique and support genomic science.

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The authors thank and acknowledge financial support from the Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main and the German Research Foundation (DFG) under the ‘Programme Point Süd’, who enabled H.M.Y. and M.M. to bring international scholars to a workshop to discuss some of the themes highlighted here. J.D.V. is supported by a Wellcome Trust Research Development Award entitled ‘Incompleteness and the ethics of new and emerging health technologies: fostering African conversations on relational ontology, epistemic justice and academic activism’ (WT222784/Z/21/Z).

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Correspondence to Henri-Michel Yéré or Jantina De Vries.

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Yéré, HM., Machirori, M. & De Vries, J. Unpacking race and ethnicity in African genomics research. Nat Rev Genet (2022).

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