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Project in Luján

"Conocimientos e Identidades Argentinas" is an interdisciplinary project that explores public perspectives of race, ethnicity, and national belonging and how these may be affected by recent trends in genetic ancestry research in Argentina. The project focuses on the historical city centers of Luján.



Photography © 2010-23, Loruhama T.R.


We have recruited a random sample of 290 participants who reside in the city's oldest historical areas to undergo a genetic ancestry test by providing a saliva sample, and asked 80 of those participants to additionally participate in longitudinal interviews. We are also interviewing individuals who do not wish to provide a saliva sample but are nevertheless interested in contributing the project's focus on identities.


We are additionally exploring collective attitudes of race, ethnicity, and nationhood via temporary public exhibits at the Museo Udaondo, a local museum and cultural arts space, and at the campus of the Universidad Nacional de Luján. We will present educational graphics on the history of Luján and of Argentina, on how DNA is used in genetic ancestry analyses, and the evolutionary and statistical basis for the interpretation of genetic ancestry. The visitors will have the opportunity to record their own thoughts and ideas about the information that is presented in the exhibit, and if the wish to do so, they will be able to include their opinions along with the content of the exhibit.


The project runs from 2015 t0 2019.

Historical neighborhoods of Luján

"Conocimientos e Identidades Argentinas" has been reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Boards (IRB) at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville), the University of Oregon (Eugene), and the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque). In Argentina, the project has been reviewed and approved by the "Comité de Ética de la Región Sanitaria VII Hospital de Agudos 'Dr. Ramón Carrillo'.”


From June to August 2008, Cabana and Mendoza conducted pilot work in Luján, Argentina with the goal of evaluating the efficacy of our research design. We recruited 16 adult participants (8 females and 8 males) with the purpose of (a) exploring if knowledge on genetic ancestry would in any way change the subjects’ individual or social identity; and (b) exploring the extent to which subjects trusted genetic knowledge, in the form of a genetic ancestry test, just as much as, more, or less than knowledge obtained by oral tradition, documents, or cultural practices.


The results of this pilot research have been presented at several academic venues in the United States and Argentina (conferences and university presentations), as well as in a 2008 article published in the Bulletin of Genealogía de Luján.



We have received grants from the National Science Foundation (#1344185) and from the University of New Mexico's Latin American and Iberian Institute to conduct this project. We expect to complement this funding with additional grants.


The 2008 pilot work was funded via starting investigator funds from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and was approved by the Institutional Review Boards at the University of Tennessee (IRB 7372 B) and University of Oregon in Eugene (IRB X86-08F).


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