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Genetics and Stereotypes

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Language Arts And English +6 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This collection uses a print by Enrique Chagoya, “Aliens Sans Frontières (Aliens without borders),” as a starting point to explore our assumptions about certain groups of people and how genetically similar all humans are despite our tendency for 'othering.' "After researching his DNA ancestry, Chagoya learned that his ancestors were Native American (Central Mexico), European, Ashkenazi, Middle Eastern/North African, Sub-Saharan African, and East and South Asian.” In this print, Chagoya presents six self-portraits, “each drawing on a pernicious stereotype of a certain ethnicity". Chagoya “uses his art for activist causes and also uses seemingly cartoonish or naïve imagery as an entryway for discussions of complex cultural and geopolitical issues”. (https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/aliens-sans-fronti%C3%A8res/ywEBemoMJCIUFQ)

This collection can be used in several classroom settings: Biology (genetics unit), Theory of Knowledge (to discuss ways of knowing such as language or consider bias), Geography or History. An interesting interdisciplinary exploration could be connecting a science class with a language class where students read written works from some of the same geographic regions as Chagoya's genetic breakdown.

Annotations attached to the print and video resources provide information on how to guide student exploration with each of the thinking routines.

Extensions:

Articles from New York Times: The first article included in the collection is an opinion piece written by David Reich, whose research focuses on population genetics of ancient humans, including their migrations and the mixing of populations, discovered by analysis of genome-wide patterns of mutations. The second article includes a selection of public comments on the original article as well as responses to each comment from David Reich.

Connection with Skin color, race and migration connection (presently working on this collection, will need to link collection before publishing!)