School of Geography

Inaugural Lecture: Professor Catherine Nash

18 May 2011

Time: 6:30 - 7:30pm
Venue: Drapers Lecture Theatre


Who Do We Think We Are? Geographies of Genetic Relatedness

Ideas of 'who we are' are commonly linked to 'where we come from'. These themes of identity and geographical origins are being pursued in the newly entangled practices of genealogy and human population genetics. But who is the ‘we’ in these personal and scientific accounts of ancestry, origins and relatedness? Is it humanity as a global family or specific groups of people linked by ancestry? How do new genetic accounts of shared descent evoke and rework understandings of collective identity and difference, such as Britishness or Irishness? Answering these questions means addressing their geographies: the mapping of human genetic variation; the meaning of geographical origins; the scales of imagination and analysis; and the politics of belonging and identity in different places. Genetic accounts of who is related to whom and how are reviving old questions about categories of human difference but in new and contradictory ways.


Catherine Nash (BA, PhD University of Nottingham) is a feminist cultural geographer and Professor of Human Geography in the School of Geography, Queen Mary, University of London. Her research interests are in geographies of belonging and relatedness in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Britain and in relation to ideas of ancestry and origins in popular and scientific practice. Her work has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust, the British Academy, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Recent publications include Of Irish Descent: Origin Stories, Genealogy and the Politics of Belonging, Syracuse University Press, 2008.