Blog One: American Association of Anthropological Genetics

The American Association of Anthropological Genetics(AAAG) has three main goals; “To promote the study of anthropological genetics, facilitate communication between individuals engaged in the study of anthropological genetics, and foster cooperation among anthropological geneticists. ”

Initially when you arrive at AAAG’s webpage you see their mission statement, which is common for an organization. However, directly under you see their “News and Announcements” section which displays information about individuals in the field of Genetic Anthropology. As their mission statement has a goal to “Facilitate communication… [and ] foster cooperation”, by having these announcements as the forefront of their page supports their mission and does allow for individuals to keep up with others prospering their communication.

Although compared to other organizations such as the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) or the American Society of American Archaeologist (ASAA) which have been around for quite some time, 68 and 84 years respectively. The AAAG has only been around since 1994 which makes them fairly new in comparison. However their official publication Human Biology based out of Wayne State University has been around since 1929. Their Journal is peer-reviewed which gives it academic integrity and allows them a way to share research within their field. Specifically the  Human Biology journal  focuses on the research involved in the  understanding of human biological variation.

With this in mind AAAG is mainly representing the anthropology subfield of molecular anthropology. Molecular anthropology is defined as  molecular( i.e. DNA the genetic structure of every individual) analysis techniques used to determine evolutionary links between ancient and modern humans.  Some of the studies discussed on their site includes research being done at Cornell University where genomic data (DNA) from living and ancient humans is analyzed to better understand genetic trait evolution.

Although I would say AAAG mainly falls into the subfield of molecular anthropology, as they deal with human remains from the past I would say they also fall into the subfield of bioarchaeology. Now bioarchaeology, deals with the human remains from archaeological sites and as AAAG compare past to present I believe they also qualify under this subfield.

We know from our first few lectures that anthropology, and more specifically physical anthropology, tries to answer the question “why we are what we are”. This is typically done a number of ways; a comparative analysis and a holistic approach. By comparative analysis in relation to the AAAG they compare DNA within groups, such as  Denisovans and Neandertals,  in order to determine both their similarities and dissimilarities. In this sense AAAG contributes the broader goal of anthropology to decide why we are what we are in relation to the past.

Another broad theme in anthropology is adaptation. One of the studies shown on their site researches tuberculosis, a bacterial infection that has been around a long time. One of the reasons the disease is still prevalent is because of adaptation, the bacteria adapts in its environment to survive. However,  another reason is due to the bio-cultural interaction that we as humans have played with the bacterial disease. Similar to our lecture about Malaria and how we created an more mosquito friendly environment for them to thrive. In just this study shown by AAAG encompasses the main anthropology themes of bio-cultural interaction and adaptation.

Although a more recent organization, AAAG contributes greatly to the field of biological anthropology by doing research that involves comparisons between past and present to answer the big question of “Why we are what we are” based of analyzing the DNA and traits of humans.

“AAAG– American Association of Anthropological Genetics.” AAAG. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 July 2016

One thought on “Blog One: American Association of Anthropological Genetics

  1. Hi Casandra,
    I wrote my blog about the AAFS, so I thought it was very interesting to find out that the AAAG was created in 1994 compared to the AAFS that has been around for 68 years. I thought is was really cool how the publication of Human Biology came from Wayne State University that is in driving distance from our campus of MSU. Pertaining to mosquitos, it is especially important to understand that we, as humans, have created these standing pools of water for them to proliferate and grow since we wanted to cut down trees in forests. Since our next section in this course is about DNA and human variability, it will be interesting to find out more about how we differ from one another and the Human Genome Project.
    -Jaclyn Kyko

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