Elizabeth Anne Sawchuk

Grant Type

Conference Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Grant number

Gr. CONF-850

Approve Date

February 1, 2021

Project Title

Sawchuk, Elizabeth (Alberta, U. of) DNAirobi

Recent advances in DNA and ancient DNA (aDNA) research have revolutionized the way we study the human past. DNA from African peoples – past and present – is highly sought after in research because Africa harbours the greatest genetic diversity on the planet. Yet African scholars are starkly underrepresented in this work and face barriers to attending conferences held in the Global North. DNAirobi will be the first conference focused on population genetics and aDNA to be held in Africa. It will bring together diverse stakeholders to discuss research successes, address existing challenges, and create new partnerships. Confirmed participants include leading scientists, early career researchers, and students from across Africa and around the world, as well as Africa-based museum curators, heritage officials, and representatives of descendant communities. Planned talks, roundtable discussions, and panels are structured around three objectives: 1) present African DNA/aDNA research to an interdisciplinary audience of stakeholders; 2) discuss pertinent issues, including ethics and decolonization, within the context of DNA/aDNA research in Africa; and 3) create opportunities for capacity building for African scholars and establish international networks to collaboratively identify areas for future study. This conference represents a first step towards discussing African DNA and aDNA research on African soil, and establishing a community of scholars committed to conducting engaged, ethical, and equitable scholarship in the coming years.