Vu Tien Dung Ha

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Cornell U.

Grant number

Gr. 10002

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Ha, Vu Tien Dung (Cornell U.) "Race back to Diversity: Mapping Racial and Ethnic Difference in Southeast Asian National Genome Projects"

The use of race as a scientific and biological category is regaining prominence in genomic medicine and genetic ancestry testing. Singapore and Vietnam both recently launched various national genome projects to study genome variations across their populations. I will conduct multi-sited ethnography to examine how national genome projects in Singapore and Vietnam contribute to the making of drugs targeted by race, and conceptions of population diversity. My dissertation compares the scientific cultures embedded in these nationalized, yet highly transnational, genome projects in order to explore how science and medicine, historically-imperial tools of control and colonization, have taken on a new role in these two postcolonial states as a tool to build national science, aid economic development, and construct national identities. Both Singapore’s and Vietnam’s genome projects follow a data-driven biology model that transform human genome into big data in order to enable smart, data-driven initiatives for nation and region building. This raises urgent anthropological questions: How are populations ethnically and racially reinscribed and categorized amid the forces of genomic science and the global biotechnology industry? How does this new data-driven race science produce new forms of selfhood and governance that come to define and contradict human lived experiences?