The Social Life of DNA

By Alondra Nelson,

Book cover of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation After the Genome

Book description


A Favorite Book of 2016, Wall Street Journal
2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Nonfiction (Finalist)
2017 Day of Common Learning Selection, Seattle Pacific University
2020 Diana Forsythe Prize (Honorable Mention)
2020 Best Books of the Year, Writers' Trust of Canada

The unexpected story of how genetic testing is affecting race…


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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Social Life of DNA as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is one of those books that you have to read either alone or among tolerant friends, because every few pages you’ll be moved to read some bit of it aloud to everyone around you. Alondra Nelson is a brilliant sociologist of science and technology, and this book tells the story of how genetic science and racial politics intersect, sometimes in surprising ways. I love how this book intertwines cultural and political history with clear-eyed analysis of genomics, genealogy, and the life sciences—it’s a great example of how to write about the human stakes of scientific research and innovation.

From Karen's list on human stories about technology.

The book explores the impact of home DNA testing for ancestry in the Afro-American community. One of the best and focused essays on the social consequences of DNA technology, rich with telling examples. 

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