Friday, May 11, 2007

Tasmanian Aboriginal DNA not extracted...   posted by Razib @ 5/11/2007 05:28:00 PM

Here is a story about a museum which returned Tasmanian Aboriginal remains to a community group without doing DNA analysis, because they argued that this sort of compromise would preserve them for future analysis. This is a tricky area. I'm obviously generally disinclined to sympathize with "communities" who claim bones because the individuals making the decisions are simply individuals, and often individuals playing politics. That being said, the history of the Tasmanian Aboriginals was characterized by proactive bestial treatment on the part of Europeans, and the relationship of the native peoples of Australasia and "civilization" has been highly "problematic." I think that from a cost vs. benefit standpoint targeting descendants of Aboriginal groups is perhaps a better bet, community groups can't make a strong argument that they have a right to decide whether someone gives genetic material or not. I'd honestly be curious to hear what John Hawks thinks, seeing as he's an anthropologist and so has presumably thought this issue through to some extent.