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'The Social Life of DNA'

Everyone has that one family member everyone else turns to for family stories and gossip. In social science this person is called the ‘kin-keeper.’ For many years, the work of the kin-keeper relied on sorting through old photo albums and boxes of paperwork sitting in the back corner of the attic.

But now, more and more Americans are turning to advanced technology like DNA testing to trace their genealogy. More than one million Americans have taken a DNA test in an attempt to trace their ancestry.

Social science scholar Alondra Nelson has documented this phenomenon in her new book “The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, And Reconciliation After The Genome” (Beacon Press/2016).

Nelson shares her research at a “Tuesday Tea” at Duke University on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 1 p.m.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Nelson, professor of sociology and gender studies at Columbia University, about the use of DNA-based techniques in an array of ways from pop culture to legal claims.

Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a live, weekly radio show and seasonal podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.