Public Lecture at NYAM: Alondra Nelson on The Social Life of DNA

March 24, 2016, The New York Academy of Medicine

We know DNA is a master key that unlocks medical and forensic secrets, but its genealogical life is both revelatory and endlessly fascinating. Tracing genealogy is now the second-most popular hobby amongst Americans, as well as the second-most visited online category. The tsunami of interest in genetic ancestry tracing from the African American community has been especially overwhelming. Alondra Nelson has studied this phenomenon deeply for over a decade. Weaving together keenly observed interactions with root-seekers, alongside historical details, she shows that genetic genealogy is a new tool for addressing old and enduring issues. In The Social Life of DNA, 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.

Alondra Nelson is Dean of Social Science and professor of sociology at Columbia University. Her books include the award-winning Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination and, as coeditor, Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History, andTechnicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life. Chair-elect of the Science, Knowledge, and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association, she has also been an expert guest on “StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson” and StarTalk Radio.

This lecture is part of the New York Academy of Medicine Library’s History of Medicine series.

Date: Thursday, March 24, 2016

Time: 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

Location: The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029

Free and open to the public; advance registration is requested. To register for this event:

For more information about this and other upcoming history of medicine events in the New York area, see the calendar page of our blog, “Books, Health, and History”:

Contact Info:

Contact Email:


Posted: March 14, 2016