Accepted Paper:

The (moral) sound of silence: acceptance of and resistance to genetics research in Southern Italy  

Author:

Valeria Trupiano (University of Naples - L'Orientale)

Paper short abstract:

My presentation focuses on the moral dimensions of a genetics research study on 'isolated human populations' in southern Italy. Its name is 'Parco Genetico del Cilento e del Vallo di Diano'. How and to what extent is moral discourse part of the transaction between researchers and locals?

Paper long abstract:

My presentation focuses on the moral dimensions of a genetics research study now in its sixth year of development in Southern Italy. The area is called "Parco Nazionale del Cilento e del Vallo di Diano" and it is in the south of Naples (it is included in UNESCO "heritage of humanity" list and in UN "Man and Biosphere" programmes). It has given the name to the research project, "Parco Genetico del Cilento e del Vallo di Diano". The research project forms part of the worldwide genetics research on "isolated human populations" and started in 2000. It has involved fieldwork in 12 municipalities within the Park and aims at finding relations between some diseases and genes by crossreferencing genealogical, medical and genetic data. Besides this "global" setting, the project seeks to actively involve local populations and institutions.

My research on this project revolves mainly around one question: how and to what extent is moral discourse part of the transaction between researchers and locals? "Values" are by all means relevant in the negotiation of involvement and resistance. Yet the "global assemblage" seems different from what has emerged in previous researches of the same kind, namely in the Iceland case. Indeed, initial data do not show the wider national and local debates registered in Iceland, and in Cilento local subjects take for granted their role as objects of research.

Pálsson and Rabinow asked why biomedical issues become bioethical problems. Conversely, my question is: why don't biomedical issues become explicit and public bioethical problems? Although clearly focused on the Southern Italy case, my research thus implies a strong comparative approach.

Panel W082
Anthropology of biopolitics and moral choices