TU Wien Informatics

Race and the Problems with ‘Progress’ in Forensic DNA Phenotyping

  • By Katta Spiel / Claudia Vitt (edt.)
  • 2020-10-15
  • Event
  • Public Outreach
  • Social Responsibility

Join us online for our new public lecture series on Critical Perspectives on Technology, starting with Roos Hopman (Amsterdam).

Race and the Problems with ‘Progress’ in Forensic DNA Phenotyping

  • This is an online-only event.
    See description for details.

The Face as Folded Object: Race and the Problems with ‘Progress’ in Forensic DNA PhenotypingRoos Hopman (University of Amsterdam)

Forensic DNA phenotyping (FDP) encompasses an emerging set of technologies to predict phenotypic characteristics from DNA to help identify unknown suspects. Advocates of FDP present it as the future of forensics; these techniques’ ultimate goal is to produce complete, individualized facial composites based on DNA. With the promise of individuality and the advancement of technology comes the assumption that modern methods are steadily moving away from racial science. Yet in quantifying physical differences, FDP practices build upon particular nineteenth and twentieth-century scientific practices that measured and categorized human variation in terms of race.

Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in various genetic laboratories, in this talk, Roos, therefore, will complicate a linear temporal approach to scientific progress. Building on the notion of the folded object as developed by Amade M’charek, Roos will focus on how race comes about in these practices as a consequence of temporal folds.

Roos Hopman will be joined by Dr. Simone Kriglstein (University of Vienna).


Registration and participation are free and open to the public.

About the Lecture Series

Technologies invade our everyday lives, take part in constructing our identity, classify (often violently) bodies, and, pushed by recent regulations on social distancing, play an expanding role in connecting families and friends. The effects of this rapid increase of technological dependency, though, further exacerbate existing inequalities, introduce new ones, and lead to previously less apparent pockets of freedom.

In the series “Critical Perspectives on Technology”, the project “Exceptional Norms,” part of the research unit Human Computer Interaction at TU Wien Informatics, invites interested audiences to participate in biweekly talks and critically engage with recent research on technology assessment.

Our speakers are trailblazing scholars and internationally renowned experts from a range of (inter)disciplinary standpoints in conversation with Austrian researchers as hosts.

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