History of the Human Sciences 28 (5):146-167 (2015)

This article is about ‘genogeographic’ maps produced by late-Soviet geneticists and published during post-Soviet time. It focuses on the visual and numerical techniques scientists used to project genetic data onto geographic space. Rather than discussing their representational character, I follow these visuals as ‘folded objects’, describing the layering and realigning of measurements and temporalities as well as the shifts in the practices and meanings of genetics. In the 1970s Soviet biological anthropologists transformed scattered data points by means of spatial statistics into visually coherent maps for a ‘genogeographical atlas’, by interpolating data for the entire USSR territory. Computer-aided modelling rendered ‘populations’ as systemic entities and enacted specific cybernetic versions of population, evolution and difference. Tracing the history of their making helps one in understanding what these folded objects hold in store, in terms of data ranging from Russian imperial and colonial anthropology, through early Soviet traditions, to cold war technologies. Folded into those maps in intricate ways, they have co-shaped post-Soviet human genetics as an ever-active site for possible reinscriptions of difference.
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DOI 10.1177/0952695115610570
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Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences.Geoffrey C. Bowker & Susan Leigh Star - 2001 - Journal of the History of Biology 34 (1):212-214.

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