Tag Archives: African American

Genetic, Epigenetic, and Sociocultural Data Applied to Questions of Human Health and Disease

Connie Mulligan (University of Florida)

A host of genetic and environmental factors, including sociocultural influences, impact complex phenotypes in humans. Based on this definition, complex phenotypes include complex diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and mental illness, as well as more broadly defined conditions such as stress and racial health disparities. My research takes a uniquely anthropological perspective and integrates biological and cultural factors to examine human health and disease. Specifically, I use genetic, epigenetic, biological and cultural data to investigate a diverse set of complex phenotypes. I’m interested in conditions with a stress component since stress is highly prevalent in our society and has many different facets, including genetic, biological, cultural and psychological aspects. I’m interested in racial health disparities since they, too, are prevalent in our society and have both genetic and environmental components. Epigenetic modifications may also play a role in complex phenotypes, possibly with an evolutionary component, by altering gene expression in response to events that happen during one’s lifetime. I’ll discuss two projects in my lab that 1) examine the genetic and cultural risk factors for hypertension in African Americans living in Tallahassee, FL and 2) investigate an epigenetic mechanism to mediate the effect of maternal stress on maternal and infant health in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Standing at the Crossroads: Toward an Archaeology of the African Diaspora

Whitney Battle-Baptiste (UMASS)

In the 1970s a group of radical Black Feminists, known as the Combahee River Collective, met and put forth a concept they called the “simultaneity of oppression.” In 1989, legal studies scholar, Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” to describe the interlocking matrix of oppression (meaning race, gender and class) experienced by women of African descent within the U.S. legal system. For African Diaspora archaeology, the framework of intersectionality has become a useful method for providing new insights into the past lives and experiences of women and men of the African descent.  This paper will discuss this recent trend and expand the discussion to include the usefulness of Black Feminist Archaeology, the impact of critical heritage in the interpretation of African American historic sites, and the movement toward a multidimensional analysis within the field of historical and African Diaspora archaeology.