Code Narrative History. Making Sense of Ancient DNA in Contemporary Society is an interdisciplinary research project based at Stockholm University and Uppsala University in Sweden. The project aims to investigate how archaeogenetic research in Sweden, France and the UK is crafted into historical narratives.

Archaeogenetics—the use of molecular techniques to extract and analyse the DNA from ancient humans and animals—is an expanding research field that has enjoyed much public attention over the past few years. Despite the growing interest in archaeogenetics, there is little formal research on the processes through which historical narratives are created from DNA sequences. Ancient DNA codes consist of a series of molecules without inherent significance; to become meaningful, genetic data must be interpreted through existing cultural and historical frameworks.

How can we understand the processes through which DNA code is translated into historical narratives? Are these narratives formed by researchers, museums and journalists, or through interaction between these, and other, actors?

Code Narrative History investigates how wordless DNA-codes are translated into historical narratives. A research team including an archaeologist, a media historian and a historian of ideas follow three archaeogenetic research projects in Sweden, France and the UK, and analyse the historical narratives which have been connected to the findings of these projects. Through international comparisons, the project investigates how such narratives are related to the politics, national stories and traditional historiographies of each country.

The research project is funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond—the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences—and will go on between the spring of 2018 and the winter of 2021.

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