This innovative ethnographic study animates the racial politics that underlie genomic research into type 2 diabetes, one of the most widespread chronic diseases and one that affects ethnic groups disproportionately. Michael J. Montoya follows blood donations from “Mexican-American” donors to laboratories that are searching out genetic contributions to diabetes. His analysis lays bare the politics and ethics of the research process, addressing the implicit contradiction of undertaking genetic research that reinscribes race’s importance even as it is being demonstrated to have little scientific validity. In placing DNA sampling, processing, data set sharing, and carefully crafted science into a broader social context, Making the Mexican Diabetic underscores the implications of geneticizing disease while illuminating the significance of type 2 diabetes research in American life.
Michael J. Montoya is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Chicano/Latino Studies & Public Health at the University of California, Irvine.
“Making the Mexican Diabetic presents a finely-honed ethnography. Montoya is particularly attuned to the sensitivity and conundrums surrounding the use of DNA drawn from a population at high risk of diabetes, and he makes a strong case for understanding the rational value behind this approach as well as its potential reinforcement of racial stereotypes. This is a unique and important book.”- Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America
"This is a fascinating, broad-ranging, and fair-minded ethnography. In the best tradition of science studies, Montoya takes the scientific research seriously on its own terms. Yet he always brings us back to the sociopolitical context, including the tremendous conditions of inequality that Mexican immigrants encounter in the United States.” -Steven Epstein, Northwestern University
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