Photo-ID: Photographers and Scientists explore Identity

The complexity surrounding the construction of personal and social identity will be explored in Photo-ID, a major exhibition in Norwich City Centre, throughout August 2009. It will present the work of nine specially commissioned photographers, who will each visually explore issues around identity. Their work will be shown within a context that explores how recent information about the human genome and its variations affects how we think about identity, now and in the future. Photo-ID will be freely open to the general public, and will be accompanied by a full programme of ancillary educational activities, a book and this website.

Supported by
Wellcome logo
NCAS logo NCAS logo NUCA logo


Numerous scientists with expertise in genomes and genomics have been involved in our preliminary discussions and research.  Keith Roberts (Photo/ID curator) has considerable expertise in the DNA area (he is co-author of the Alberts et al text Molecular Biology of the Cell, whose 5th edition is published in December 2007), and Dr Barbara Jennings, the local People of the British Isles expert is also a consultant and collaborator on the project, but in addition we have consulted the following experts: Chris Tyler-Smith (Sanger Centre, Cambridge), Thomas Haizel (Anglia DNA Services Ltd.), and David Cooper (Cardiff University).

Photo-ID References:

These references are not intended to be comprehensive; they are simply the references that I have found helpful in curating this exhibition, grouped rather arbitrarily into subject areas!

Identity, Evolution and the Human Genome

Barnes B. and Dupré J. Genomes and What to Make of Them. University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2008

Jobling M.A., Hurles M.E., Tyler-Smith C. Human Evolutionary Genetics: Origins, People and Disease. Garland Science, New York 2004

Jones S. The Descent of Men. Little, Brown, London 2002

Watson J.D. DNA: The Secret of Life.  Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2003

Brock D.W. Human Cloning and Our Sense of Self. Science 296: 314, 2002

Elliott C., Brodwin P. Identity and Genetic Ancestry Tracing. BMJ 325; 1469-1469, 2002

Eichler E.E. et al. Completing the Map of Human Genetic Variation Nature 447; 161-165, 2007

Jobling M.A., Tyler-Smith C. The Human Y Chromosome: An Evolutionary Marker comes of Age. Nature Reviews Genetics 4; 598-612, 2003

Anker S. and Nelkin D. The Molecular Gaze: Art in the Molecular Age Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, NY 2004

Ede S. Art and Science I.B. Tauris, London 2005

The Social Sciences and Identity

Greenfield S. The Quest for Identity in the 21st Century. Hodder and Stoughton, London 2008

Bauman Z. Identity: Conversations with Benedetto Vecchi. Polity Press, Cambridge 2004

Sen A. Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny. Allen Lane, London 2006

Lawler S. Identity: Sociological Perspectives. Polity Press, Cambridge 2008

duGay P., Evans J., Redman P. Eds. Identity: A Reader. Sage Publications Ltd, London 2000

Spencer S. Race and Ethnicity: Culture, Identity and Representation. Routledge, London 2006

Miller P., Rose N. Production, Identity, and Democracy. Theory and Society 24; 427-467, 1995

Photography and Identity

Sontag S. On Photography. Allen Lane London 1978

Rush M. New Media in Art. Thames and Hudson, London 2005

Williams V. and Bright S. How We Are: Photographing Britain from the1840s to the Present. Tate Publishing 2007

Cotton C. The Photograph as Contemporary Art. Thames and Hudson, London 2004

Barthes R. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Jonathan Cape, London 1982

Edwards S. Photography: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2006

Dyer G. The Ongoing Moment. Little, Brown Book Group, London 2005

Evans J. and Hall S. Eds. Visual Culture: A Reader. Sage Publications Ltd., London 1999

Badger G. The Genius of Photography: How Photography has Changed our Lives. Quadrille Publishing Ltd., London 2007

Bright S. Art Photography Now. Thames and Hudson, London 2005

Clarke G. The Photograph. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1997

Rosenblum N. A World History of Photography. 3rd Ed. Abbeville Press, New York 1997

History and Identity

McKie R. Face of Britain: How our Genes Reveal the History of Britain. Simon and Schuster, London 2006

Stringer C. Homo Brittanicus: The Incredible Story of Human Life in Britain. Penguin Books, London 2006

Renfrew C. Figuring it Out: What are We? Where do we Come From? The Parallel Visions of Artists and Archaeologists. Thames and Hudson, London 2003

Brilliant R. Portraiture. Reaktion Books, London 1991

West S. Portraiture. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004

Cavalli-Sforza L.L., Cavalli-Sforza F. The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution. Addison Wesley, Reading, Mass. 1995

Hamilton P., Hargreaves R. The Beautiful and the Damned: The Creation of Identity in Nineteenth Century Photography. Lund Humphries, Aldershot 2001

Nairne S., Howgate S. The Portrait Now National Portrait Gallery Publications, London 2006

Nature, Nurture and Identity

Reilly P.R. Is it in Your Genes: The Influence of Genes on Common Disorders and Diseases that Affect You and Your Family. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, New York 2004

Jones S. In the Blood: God Genes and Destiny. HarperCollinsPublishers, London 1996

Ridley M. Nature via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human. Fourth Estate , London 2003

Harris J.R. The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do Free Press, NY Revised edition 2009

Identity and Identification

Caplan J. and Torpey J. Eds. Documenting Individual Identity: The Development of State Practices in the Modern World. Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford 2001

Bennett C.J. and Lyon D. Eds. Playing the Identity Card: Surveillance, security and identification in global perspective. Routledge, London 2008

Bruce V. and Young A. In the Eye of the Beholder: The Science of Face Perception. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1998

Livingstone M. Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. New York 2002

IPTS Biometrics at the Frontiers: Assessing the Impact on Society. Report for the European Parliament Committee on Citizen’s Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) EUR 21585 EN, 2005

Barton B., Carlton D., Ziehm O. Identity management in the 21st century: Balancing safety, security and liberty in a global environment. IBM Global Business Services, New York 2007

Web Sites

The Wellcome Trust Case-Control Consortium (WTCCC) is a group of 50 research groups across the UK which was established in 2005. The WTCCC aims were to exploit progress in understanding of patterns of human genome sequence variation along with advances in high-throughput genotyping technologies, and to explore the utility, design and analyses of genome-wide association (GWA) studies.

People of the British Isles: PoBI have been given funding by the Wellcome Trust to collect blood samples from 3,500 people from rural populations throughout the British Isles. These will be used to look at the patterns of differences in people’s genetic make up around the UK. The project will have two purposes, the first to help medical research, and the second to shed light on ancient migrations within the British Isles.

ESRC Genomics Policy and Research Forum (EGN) is a major investment by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), dedicated to examining the development and use of the science and technologies of genomics. The activities of the EGN span the whole field of genomics, covering areas as diverse as plant and animal genetics, embryonic stem cell research, and associated health applications.

IdentiNet is a network of academics from four continents, working to tell the story of individual identification within a long-term, international and comparative framework.

The Human Genome Organisation  (HUGO)  is the international organisation of scientists involved in human genetics. Established in 1989 by a collection of the world's leading human geneticists, the primary ethos of the Human Genome Organisation is to promote and sustain international collaboration in the field of human genetics.

The International HapMap Project is a multi-country effort to identify and catalog genetic similarities and differences in human beings. Using the information in the HapMap, researchers will be able to find genes that affect health, disease, and individual responses to medications and environmental factors.

Culture and Identity in Photography: A Study Room Resource. This study room resource, compiled by the Victoria and Albert Museum, contains photographs that deal with issues of cultural identity. It explores the work of black, Asian and Middle Eastern photographers and of white photographers who have worked in cultures other than their own.

Genetics and Identity Project is a US initiative that brings together notable scholars from genetics, philosophy, medicine, law, religious studies, sociology, cultural anthropology, and history, as well as scholars whose work is intimately tied to questions of race and ethnicity, such as those working in African-American Studies, Jewish Studies, and Native American Studies. Funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the project, which began in the fall of 2000, addresses the central question, “How might new ways of mapping genetic variation change the way that an individual or a group conceptualizes its identity?”