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Becoming a Viking: DNA Testing, genetic ancestry and placeholder identity

journal contribution
posted on 21.10.2015, 10:25 by Marc D. Scully, Steven D. Brown, Turi E. King
A consensus has developed among social and biological scientists around the problematic nature of genetic ancestry testing, specifically that its popularity will lead to greater genetic essentialism in social identities. Many of these arguments assume a relatively uncritical engagement with DNA, under ‘high-stakes’ conditions. We suggest that in a biosocial society, more pervasive ‘low-stakes’ engagement is more likely. Through qualitative interviews with participants in a study of the genetic legacy of the Vikings in Northern England, we investigate how genetic ancestry results are discursively worked through. The identities formed in ‘becoming a Viking’ through DNA are characterized by fluidity and reflexivity, rather than essentialism. DNA results are woven into a wider narrative of selfhood relating to the past, the value of which lies in its potential to be passed on within families. While not unproblematic, the relatively banal nature of such narratives within contemporary society is characteristic of the ‘biosociable’.

History

Citation

Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2016, 39(2), pp. 162-180

Author affiliation

/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, ARTS AND HUMANITIES/School of History

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Published in

Ethnic and Racial Studies

Publisher

Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles

issn

0141-9870

eissn

1466-4356

Acceptance date

29/09/2015

Copyright date

2015

Publisher version

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01419870.2016.1105991

Notes

The file associated with this record is under an 18-month embargo from publication in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy, available at http://authorservices.taylorandfrancis.com/sharing-your-work/. The full text may be available in the publisher links provided above.

Language

en