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The Material GeneGender, Race, and Heredity after the Human Genome Project$
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Kelly E. Happe

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780814790670

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814790670.001.0001

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Genomics and the Polluted Body

Genomics and the Polluted Body

(p.139) 5 Genomics and the Polluted Body
The Material Gene

Kelly E. Happe

NYU Press

This chapter examines the direct links between women and industrialization, specifically by contrasting the gene-environment model (as envisioned by genomics) with theories of environmental breast cancer. It refers to the new science of gene-environment interaction as “environmental genomics” and argues that the latter rests on politically invested assumptions about heredity, risk, and the body—namely, free-market ideology. Although environmental genomics by no means introduces such a logic into public health, it repackages it anew through a hereditarian-inflected rhetoric of progression, enabling the claim that we can rationalize environmental health interventions by identifying those who are truly at risk. Identifying and classifying persons at varying levels of hereditary susceptibility is not, however, progress as much as it is simply a different, albeit also value-laden, way of describing bodies, environments, and social relations.

Keywords:   industrialization, gene-environment model, environmental breast cancer, hereditarian rhetoric, environmental health, hereditary susceptibility

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