Over the Spring semester 2015, I produced a video documenting the “Race, Genetics and Ethnicity: Comparing Categorical and Ancestral Identities” project, interviewing the participants and discussing the issues at stake with the other fellows involved. Presented at the Spring Humanities Symposium (February 25; Parmer Cinema).


“Recent genetic research has begun to reveal the deep histories of human DNA through identifying human haplogroups — that is, groups of human populations sharing single nucleotide polymorphism mutations (SNPs) over generations.  These shared genetic mutations thus reveal a shared a common ancestor. Using this new evidence, we propose to gather and publicly present the results of ancestral DNA research (which identifies our historically deep genetic identity), and then compare these results with our own received understandings of race and ethnicity as traditional foundations for personal and group identity.  We will then compare the insights of hapologroup identities with the more traditional personal and group identities of race, ethnicity, and nationality in an effort to broaden our sense of personal identity and collective history. Along the way we shall be sensitive to the tensions sometimes created by this juxtaposition of genetic haplogroup identity with racial, ethnic, and national personal/group identities, and will make a point of distinguishing between our human differences (racial, ethnic, national) and their historical origins.  Yet we also hope to encourage a reassessment of received/perceived differences in light of the results of genetic haplogroup identities.  Our ultimate interest lies in the comparison of genetic history with our received histories of personal and group identities.”

Aspects that attracted me to the project are the possibility of putting my visual and multicultural expertise to the service of my college, and the interactions between students, faculty members, and staff members the event may generate. I also saw it as an opportunity to work with faculty from other departments on a project involving a digital component.

In collaboration with: Michael Shin (Associate Prof. of Biology), Bernardo Michael (Special Asst. to the President/Provost for Diversity Affairs & Associate Prof. of History), Joseph P. Huffman (Distinguished Prof. of European History).

Video: Anthony Watkins (Digital Media major)

Logo: Caitlin Fenello (Art Major)



Genetic Ancestry Project

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