Territory, ancestry and descent: the politics of sickle cell disease.
Sociologists have long questioned the naturalness and stability of ‘ethnic groups’, suggesting that a concern with how they are socially constituted is more appropriate. However, the example of genetically based medical conditions appears to challenge this by suggesting that, in certain cases, ancestry, territorial affiliation and identity may be linked objectively by genetics. The article uses the example of sickle cell disease (SCD) to examine this claim. After reviewing the difficulties associated with notions of ethnicity, the article develops an account of how SCD came to be seen as an ‘ethnic disease’, and how it came to play a major role in the stabilization of particular forms of group identity. It concludes by emphasizing the need for a critical view of popular notions of territory and group identification.
Citation : Carter, B. and Dyson, S.M. (2011) Territory, ancestry and descent: the politics of sickle cell disease. Sociology, 45 (6) pp. 963-976.
ISSN : 0038-0385
Research Group : Unit for the Social Study of Thalassaemia and Sickle Cell
Research Institute : Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research
Peer Reviewed : Yes