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Health Care Anal. 2007 Mar;15(1):41-9.

On parrots and thorns: Sri Lankan perspective on genetics, science and personhood.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, 43 Old Elvet, University of Durham, DH I 3HN, UK.


This paper addresses the issue of how the scientific discourse of genetics is expressed in local idioms. The examples used are taken from fieldwork conducted in Sri Lanka and relate principally to Sinhala Buddhist attempts to socialise 'big science.' The paper explores idioms of both nature and nurture in local imagery and narratives and draws attention to the rhetorical dimensions of genetic discourses when used in context. The article concludes with a preliminary attempt to identify the ways in which explanations of genetic causality are aligned with notions of karma in the explanation of illness and misfortune.

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