Alondra Nelson is Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology and gender studies at Columbia University. She is author of the award-winning book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination and editor of Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History. Her reviews, writing and commentary have also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Science, Boston Globe, and the Guardian. She lives in New York City.
The Social Life of DNA, Alondra Nelson takes us on an unprecedented journey into how the double helix has wound its way into the heart of the most urgent contemporary social issues around race. These cutting-edge DNA-based techniques, she reveals, are being used in myriad ways, including grappling with the unfinished business of slavery: to foster reconciliation, to establish ties with African ancestral homelands, to rethink and sometimes alter citizenship, and to make legal claims for slavery reparations specifically based on ancestry. Weaving together keenly observed interactions with root-seekers alongside illuminating historical details and revealing personal narrative, The Social Life of DNA shows that genetic genealogy is a new tool for addressing old and enduring issues.