Context

The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 marked a watershed in our capacity to convert our genetic material into a novel source of information about our collective pasts. Thanks to the introduction of new DNA sequencing technologies and advances in ancient DNA research, biologists are beginning to use genetic data to offer new insights into age‐old questions: who are we, and where do we come from?

The current stream of genomic data presents both opportunities and challenges. Humanities researchers are ideally equipped to offer contextual data and critical perspectives to help interpret the clues offered by genomic studies. Yet the lack of ongoing collaboration between humanities scholars and natural scientists means that essential voices are often missing from the narratives that are starting to reshape our knowledge about the origins and formation of contemporary societies.

Approach

Bringing together academic partners from Denmark, Iceland, Ireland and the UK, and non-academic partners from the fields of DNA ancestry testing, family tree research, and public engagement with science, CitiGen aims to provide a collaborative, trans‐national framework for dialogue between the humanities and the natural sciences over the uses of genomic data in the study of human population histories.

Research questions

How are genomic studies being used to shape public understandings of the past, and what is the current impact of this new knowledge upon European societies?
How are interpretations of emergent molecular data affecting historically constructed notions of citizenship, identity, and nationhood – and vice versa?
How can the humanities and natural sciences collaborate to develop integrated approaches that promote responsible readings of the past?