Dutch-ness in Genes and Genealogy:
Following Genetic Diversity around in Science and Society
2010 ‐ present CSG Centre for Society and the Life Sciences Research Project

Two decades after the initiation of the Human Genome Project, genetic knowledge has left the walls of the laboratory to come to play a key role in how we see ourselves. But how do genetic versions of identity relate to other modes of doing identity? This project aims to study emergent identities in the interaction between science and socio-cultural practices. It does so by examining specific cases in which genetic technologies are mobilized to contribute with knowledge about national, local, individual, familial, or ethnic identities. These findings will be analyzed in the context of current public debates in which the natural (or the gene) is ascribed an ever growing role in determining who we are. A special focus will be paid to how these identities relate to race and how specific identities become racialized. Next to a quick scan of this debate in the Netherlands, four participant observations (comprising four cases) will be carried out in four practices where genetic diversity researchers have become involved in archeological and genealogical projects. The similarities and differences between these cases are deemed interesting because they sensitize us to different modes of doing identity. In the archeological project (case 1&2) the focus is on Dutch-ness. In the genealogical projects (case 3&4) the focus is on lineage and ethnicity. The goal of this project as a whole is to investigate how identities are construed when different ‘technologies’ come together.

Genes, Brains and Criminality in Context
2011 ‐ 2013 CSG Center for Society and the Life Sciences Research Project

The Dutch Ministry of Justice wants neurobiological and behavioral genetic knowledge, in addition to social scientific and scientific legal knowledge, to be given a place in research, policy and practice. The ultimate goal is to achieve a science-based practice of prevention, investigation and justice in order to reduce serious crime figures and lower recidivism. (Kogel, 2008) In connection with this, the Dutch Institute for Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology (NIFP) is busy assessing the extent to which new neuropsychological, neurobiological and genetic knowledge and techniques are applicable in forensic diagnostics for the judiciary and the TBS-sector. In keeping with this, the forensic psychiatric observation clinic of the Ministry of Justice, the Pieter Baan Centre (PBC) has started a neuropsychological research project for diagnostic purposes and hopes to start additional behavioral genetic research in the near future (Blok 2010). An important challenge within this context of forensic diagnostics, is the alignment between questions from legal practice and possibilities from science and technology. This involves the search for connections between new genetic and neurobiological knowledge and insights and policy- and practical questions related to accountability, the risk of recidivism and treatment options. The aim is to develop objectifying techniques, for example, to make a distinction between impulsive- and intentional aggressive disorders in suspects as a means to the end of improving the quality of risk-profiles and risk-management. In the first group of disorders people have less control of their own behavior and aggression than in the latter.

A risk-profile should be meaningful for the individual case under survey. Genetic information might then provide an additional component in the appraisal process, to support other findings. But to be able to think through the consequences of this addition to the legal practice, it is important to first have a clear picture of how the current prognostic risk profiles (non-genetically) are performed and what forensic psychiatrists and psychologists, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers do with and value the findings. Subsequently, the following question should be addressed; how and under what conditions might genetic knowledge and insights be used in two important areas of justice, namely prevention and the judicial process?

A first step here is to identify and clarify experiences and expectations of the forensic psychiatrists and psychologists, and, of judges, prosecutors, and lawyers regarding the application and implications of genetic knowledge in these diverse areas of legal practice. The use of knowledge about genes and the brain will have implications for the judicial process. However, there is much uncertainty about how to proceed and what this knowledge might entail. What can be seen as an opportunity to produce risk profiles and analyses with greater certainty, by e.g. forensic investigators and criminal intelligence units (police) may not be viewed in the same way by judges and lawyers. How, then do the different actors involved assess the consequences of using genetic knowledge and insights in terms of opportunities and/or dilemma’s?

Sexualities and Diversities in the Making
2013 ‐ present FWOS Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Sexualiteit Research Project

Adolescent sexuality is mostly discussed and researched in relation to risks and dangers- as defined from an adult point of view. This does not yield information about the daily practices, pleasures and problems with regard to sexuality that adolescents experience themselves. Moreover, in societal discussions sexual development, gender equality and adolescents’ attitude towards homosexuality are often seen as problematic, in particular in relation to multicultural diversity. Earlier, mostly quantitative research, reproduces existing stereotypes by defining categories of diversity beforehand, instead of attending to the dynamics of identities.

This pioneering qualitative research project investigates how young people in the Netherlands from different backgrounds enact their sexuality and the way this is affected by and has an effect on the differences and similarities they produce among themselves. It examines how different spaces in which adolescents live their lives, in particular school and social media, limit or enable their possibilities to explore, experience, protect, develop or display their sexuality and sexual identity.

This ethnographic study will contribute with novel insight about

  1. the perspective of young people on their sexuality;
  2. the way particular spaces enable or limit the diversity of sexual identities;
  3. the entwinement of sexuality with diversity and other identities.

These insights will be disseminated to professionals and the public using various media.



  • Willemijn Krebbexk: FWOS project on “Sexualities and Diversities in the Making”
  • Iris Berends: “Risk Assessment and Neurosciences in the Pre-trial Report Setting for Juveniles"
  • Maria Elena Planas: “Positioning Ethnicity/”Race”: Discrimination, Identityt and Psychological Distress in Lima, Peru”
  • Francisca Gromme: “Governing Surveillance Technology”


  • Tjerk-Jan Schuitmaker: “Hampering of Success of New Care Practices: Unraveling Persistent Problems in the Dutch Health Care System" (2013; At present, Postdoc fellow, VU University Amsterdam)
  • Victor Toom: “A DNA Profile’s Capacity of Rights: On the Interference between Science and the Law in Forensic DNA Practice in the Netherlands" (2010; At present, Fellow, Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science (NUCFS)
  • Maria Fernanda Olarte Sierra: “Achieving the Desirable Nation: Abortion and Parental Tests in Colombia: the case of Amniocentesis” (2010; At present, Assistant professor, Universidad Los Andes, Colombia).



  • Race and forensic identification
  • Race and genetics
  • Race and physical anthropology
  • Race and archeology


  • Genetic diversity and population genetic
  • Diversity in biomedical practice (Diabetes, Sickle cell disease)
  • Diversity, sexuality and gender


  • Technologies and genetics
  • Technologies and forensic identification
  • Medical technologies
  • Every day medical technologies

Theory and Method

  • Ethnography
  • Anthropology of science and technology
  • Material semiotics
  • Science and technology studies
  • Postcolonial science studies