Science, Sentiment, and the State: Community Genetics and Pursuit of Public Health in Cuba


Contributing to an emerging field of social science literature by examining the translation of genomic medicine across global and transnational fields of research and medicine, this article examines how genetics is allied to public health in Cuba. It examines the sociopolitical and cultural discourses and practices that constitute community genetics or challenge or impede the translation and expansion of genomics as public health. Focusing on the experience of health practitioners, the article explores how their work is circumscribed by cultural values and social ideologies that collectively reveal an unexpected heterogeneity in how genetics is being constituted and reproduced. Although the Western quest for genomics as “personal medicine” is revealed here as both ideologically and practically problematic, such challenges paradoxically work to reinforce a commitment to maintaining the distinctive field of Cuban community genetics in its orientation to collective public health.

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