Devika Prakash
Search for other papers by Devika Prakash in
Current site
Google Scholar
Racialising ancient skeletons
How haplogroups are mobilised in the re-writing of origin stories in the Indian media
in Birth controlled
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

This chapter investigates how genomic practices can reinforce population thinking beyond the lab, looking particularly at how social divisions are essentialised as biological categories in India. The case chosen is the media discourse surrounding DNA recovered from skeletons belonging to the Indus Valley Civilisation, a sophisticated urban civilisation that flourished in the North West of the Indian Subcontinent between 3300 and 1300 BCE. Debates in the Indian media revolve around the question of indigeneity and the idea of an unbroken lineage of Hindus versus invaders and colonisers. These theorisations of a genetic re-inscription of population groups are bolstered by archaeological evidence and linguistic theories, which have historically resulted in politically charged debates. Through an analysis of 31 articles published in seven Indian newspapers and magazines, the chapter examines ways in which genetic evidence has been mobilised to argue for either an ‘Aryan Migration Theory’ or an indigenous Vedic culture while normatively classifying populations as ‘indigenous’, ‘Aryan’, ‘Dravidian’, ‘upper-caste’, among others. It argues that the popularisation of biomedical ideas of race poses potentially dangerous consequences for India, as ancient DNA testing is used to make arguments against those who ‘do not belong’ and as justification for various forms of political repression.

  • Collapse
  • Expand

Birth controlled

Selective reproduction and neoliberal eugenics in South Africa and India



All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 152 121 5
Full Text Views 5 4 1
PDF Downloads 6 4 2