Why the idea that the English have a common Anglo-Saxon origin is a myth

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Religion, United Kingdom on 2018-04-12 18:12Z by Steven

Why the idea that the English have a common Anglo-Saxon origin is a myth

The Conversation
2017-12-15

Duncan Sayer, Reader in Archaeology
University of Central Lancashire


A diverse history. Witan hexateuch via Wikimedia Commons

The idea that there is a common Anglo-Saxon ancestry based on biology is gaining currency among some right-wing and religious groups in the UK and US.

In the UK, the new leader of the UK Independence Party, Henry Bolton, suggested in a radio interview in October that “in certain communities the indigenous Anglo-Saxon population is nowhere to be seen.”

In August, a religious group called the Odinist Fellowship wrote to the Church of England demanding two churches as reparations for a “spiritual genocide” which it claims began in the seventh century AD.

The Odinists use old Icelandic texts to reconstruct the “indigenous” religion of the Anglo-Saxons which they claim was oppressed with the arrival of Christianity. The Anglo-Saxons are commonly believed to have migrated into Briton in the fifth and sixth century AD. Iceland by contrast was inhabited in the ninth century by Viking settlers. In the US, this mixed up medievalism is associated with the white supremacist alt-right who use Anglo-Saxon and Viking motifs.

But archaeological research, which examines ancient DNA and artefacts to explore who these “indigenous” Anglo-Saxons were, shows that the people of fifth and sixth century England had a mixed heritage and did not base their identity on a biological legacy. The very idea of the Anglo-Saxon ancestor is a more recent invention linked closely with the English establishment…

Read the entire article here.

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Carlos Arias Vivas | DNA tests don’t define your identity

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Latino Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2018-04-09 02:03Z by Steven

Carlos Arias Vivas | DNA tests don’t define your identity

The Daily Pennsylvanian
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2018-03-14

Carlos Arias Vivas


CC0

Convos with Carlos | 23andMe results can’t change your upbringing

During one late night bonding session with my hallmates, one of them revealed to the group that they took a DNA test and discovered more about their background. Intrigued, I sought out to buy one of the kits for myself. The major players in this industry are Ancestry.com and 23andMe; both offer DNA tests that can shed light on your lineage as well as an optional health risks assessment.

Now, I knew that these tests are very expensive. For 23andMe, the basic ancestry service costs $99 and the Health + Ancestry service costs $199. I ended up choosing to go with 23andMe based on positive online reviews. Also, this was the brand my hallmate had used. Luckily, for me, there was a special Black Friday sale, so I snatched up the kit and waited for it to arrive at Amazon@Penn.

Before doing the spit-test that is required, I knew that I was going to be Latino. My parents are from Ecuador, and I imagined that my ancestry composition would show a high concentration of Latino ancestry. I never questioned my background because that was never a conversation I had with my family. After countless times of spitting in my tube, I entered my registration code to track my kit, sealed up the test tube in the box, and dropped off my sample at the post office.

This “waiting game” was an agonizing process. But even though I was excited to receive my results, I knew that the outcome wouldn’t dramatically change who I was. Whatever 23andMe had in store, my upbringing is already set in stone…

Read the enetire article here.

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DNA tests are all fine and dandy, but they can never tell us who we really are

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Oceania on 2018-04-04 23:11Z by Steven

DNA tests are all fine and dandy, but they can never tell us who we really are

Stuff (The Dominion Post)
Wellington, New Zealand
2018-04-03

Geoff Chambers, Senior Research & Teaching Fellow (Retired)
Victoria Unversity of Wellington, New Zealand

Paul Callister, Retired Economist
Wellington, Victora, New Zealand


‘So just who are we? Ancestry and culture became blended in the concept of ‘ethnicity’ popular from around the 1980s. 123rf.com

OPINION: Who am I and where do I come from? Many New Zealanders ask themselves these important questions. This is the basis of our identity as individuals and as members of groups. The article Seeking the truth in DNA (March 24) tells us just how popular it has become to seek answers through genetic testing companies like Ancestry.com. For a few dollars and a small saliva sample all will be revealed.

But will it? What these tests do show is who our deep-time ancestors were and where they came from. Their results may be surprising to some. It is possible to be born in Dublin to two rock solid Irish parents and yet be told that you are Scandinavian. This dilemma can only be resolved by learning about historical population movements and invasions.

In New Zealand our focus is often on the Māori v European identity. The article above told the story of Oriini​ Kaipara, whose DNA test showed that she was 100 per cent Māori rather than just 80 per cent as she had expected. This sparked a ‘blood quantum‘ debate. This became entwined with a wider discussion led by Simon Bridges about what constitutes our sense of identity. It is time now to unpack the history of these ideas for all round better understanding…

Read the entire article here.

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Eugenics in Brazil: In the early 20th century, elites believed racial improvement was only possible with a project favoring predominance of the white race

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2018-04-01 01:38Z by Steven

Eugenics in Brazil: In the early 20th century, elites believed racial improvement was only possible with a project favoring predominance of the white race

Black Women of Brazil: The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
2018-02-27

Tiago Ferreira, Staff
Vix

What was the eugenics movement in Brazil: so absurd that it is difficult to believe

Eugenia is a term that came from the Greek and means ‘well born’. “Eugenics emerged to validate hierarchical segregation,” Pietro Diwan, author of the book Raça Pura: uma história da eugenia no Brasil e no mundo (Pure Race: A History of Eugenics in Brazil and the World), explains to VIX.

How eugenics was born

The idea was disseminated by Francis Galton, responsible for creating the term, in 1883. He imagined that the concept of natural selection of Charles Darwin—who, by the way, was his cousin—also applied to humans.

His project was intended to prove that the intellectual capacity was hereditary, that is, it passed from member to member of the family and, thus, to justify the exclusion of the blacks, Asian immigrants and disabled of all the types…

Read the entire article here.

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How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Letters, Media Archive on 2018-03-31 02:37Z by Steven

How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics

BuzzFeed
2018-03-30


Micah Baldwin / Via Flickr: micahb37

Race has long been a potent way of defining differences between human beings. But science and the categories it constructs do not operate in a political vacuum.

This open letter was produced by a group of 68 scientists and researchers. The full list of signatories can be found below.

In his newly published book Who We Are and How We Got Here, geneticist David Reich engages with the complex and often fraught intersections of genetics with our understandings of human differences — most prominently, race.

He admirably challenges misrepresentations about race and genetics made by the likes of former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade and Nobel Laureate James Watson. As an eminent scientist, Reich clearly has experience with the genetics side of this relationship. But his skillfulness with ancient and contemporary DNA should not be confused with a mastery of the cultural, political, and biological meanings of human groups.

As a group of 68 scholars from disciplines ranging across the natural sciences, medical and population health sciences, social sciences, law, and humanities, we would like to make it clear that Reich’s understanding of “race” — most recently in a Times column warning that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’” — is seriously flawed…

Read the entire letter here.

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How to Talk About ‘Race’ and Genetics

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2018-03-31 02:17Z by Steven

How to Talk About ‘Race’ and Genetics

The New York Times
2018-03-30

David Reich, Professor of Genetics
Harvard Medical School
also, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Angie Wong

In a Sunday Review essay last weekend, David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard, argued that science is changing how we think about “race” and urged a candid discussion of the findings, whatever they may be. Hundreds of readers left comments, many expressing worry about the possibility that the results could be misinterpreted or nefariously applied. Here are Dr. Reich’s responses to some of the comments. — The Editors…

…From my point of view, it should be possible for everyone to hold in their heads the following six truths:

  1. “Race” is fundamentally a social category — not a biological one — as anthropologists have shown.
  2. There are clear genetic contributors to many traits, including behavior.
  3. Present-day human populations, which often but not always are correlated to today’s “race” categories, have in a number of instances been largely isolated from one another for tens of thousands of years. These long separations have provided adequate opportunity for the frequencies of genetic variations to change.
  4. Genetic variations are likely to affect behavior and cognition just as they affect other traits, even though we know that the average genetic influences on behavior and cognition are strongly affected by upbringing and are likely to be more modest than genetic influences on bodily traits or disease.
  5. The genetic variations that influence behavior in one population will almost certainly have an effect on behavior in others populations, even if the ways those genetic variations manifest in each population may be very different. Given that all genetically determined traits differ somewhat among populations, we should expect that there will be differences in the average effects, including in traits like behavior.
  6. To insist that no meaningful average differences among human populations are possible is harmful. It is perceived as misleading, even patronizing, by the general public. And it encourages people not to trust the honesty of scholars and instead to embrace theories that are not scientifically grounded and often racist…

Read the entire article here.

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Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs on 2018-03-30 02:33Z by Steven

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past

Pantheon
2018-03-27
368 Pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781101870327
Ebook ISBN: 9781101870334

David Reich, Professor of Genetics
Harvard Medical School
also, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

David Reich describes how the revolution in the ability to sequence ancient DNA has changed our understanding of the deep human past. This book tells the emerging story of our often surprising ancestry – the extraordinary ancient migrations and mixtures of populations that have made us who we are.

  • A gripping account, from the head of a world-leading lab, of the picture of human history and ancestry emerging from the revolution in the study of ancient DNA.
  • Describes the evidence for ancient migrations and ghosts of long-lost populations, now revealed through comparing the genomes of ancient modern humans, archaic humans, and present-day populations.
  • Considers what the latest research tells us about the often surprising ancestry of the people who now inhabit Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
  • Shows how there are no ‘pure’ races: all modern human populations are mixtures of more ancient ones.
  • Shares new insights into how human populations spread across the world, and makes a compelling argument that ancient DNA is fundamentally changing our picture of who we are.

Here is a groundbreaking book about how the extraction of ancient DNA from ancient bones has profoundly changed our understanding of human prehistory while resolving many long-standing controversies.

Massive technological innovations now allow scientists to extract and analyze ancient DNA as never before, and it has become clear—in part from David Reich’s own contributions to the field—that genomics is as important a means of understanding the human past as archeology, linguistics, and the written word. In Who We Are and How We Got Here, Reich describes with unprecedented clarity just how the human genome provides not only all the information that a fertilized human egg needs to develop but also contains within it the history of our species. He explains how the genomic revolution and ancient DNA are transforming our understanding of the lineage of modern humans and how DNA studies reveal the deep history of inequality—among different populations, between the sexes, and among individuals within a population. His book gives the lie to the orthodoxy that there are no meaningful biological differenced among human populations, and at the same time uses the definitive evidence provided by genomics to show that the differences that do exist are unlikely to conform to familiar stereotypes.

Table Of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • Part I The Deep History of Our Species
    • 1 How the Genome Explains Who We Are
    • 2 Encounters with Neanderthals
    • 3 Ancient DNA Opens the Floodgates
  • Part II How We Got to Where We Are Today
    • 4 Humanity’s Ghosts
    • 5 The Making of Modern Europe
    • 6 The Collision That Formed India
    • 7 In Search of Native American Ancestors
    • 8 The Genomic Origins of East Asians
    • 9 Rejoining Africa to the Human Story
  • Part III The Disruptive Genome
    • 10 The Genomics of Inequality
    • 11 The Genomics of Race and Identity
    • 12 The Future of Ancient DNA
  • Notes on the Illustrations
  • Notes
  • Index
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How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2018-03-25 02:14Z by Steven

How Genetics Is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race’

Sunday Review
Gray Matter
The New York Times
2018-03-23

David Reich, Professor of Genetics
Harvard Medical School
also, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute


Angie Wang

In 1942, the anthropologist Ashley Montagu published “Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race,” an influential book that argued that race is a social concept with no genetic basis. A classic example often cited is the inconsistent definition of “black.” In the United States, historically, a person is “black” if he has any sub-Saharan African ancestry; in Brazil, a person is not “black” if he is known to have any European ancestry. If “black” refers to different people in different contexts, how can there be any genetic basis to it?

Beginning in 1972, genetic findings began to be incorporated into this argument. That year, the geneticist Richard Lewontin published an important study of variation in protein types in blood. He grouped the human populations he analyzed into seven “races” — West Eurasians, Africans, East Asians, South Asians, Native Americans, Oceanians and Australians — and found that around 85 percent of variation in the protein types could be accounted for by variation within populations and “races,” and only 15 percent by variation across them. To the extent that there was variation among humans, he concluded, most of it was because of “differences between individuals.”

In this way, a consensus was established that among human populations there are no differences large enough to support the concept of “biological race.” Instead, it was argued, race is a “social construct,” a way of categorizing people that changes over time and across countries.

It is true that race is a social construct. It is also true, as Dr. Lewontin wrote, that human populations “are remarkably similar to each other” from a genetic point of view…

Read the entire article here.

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Why Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to take a DNA test to prove Native American ancestry was probably a smart move

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2018-03-16 01:05Z by Steven

Why Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to take a DNA test to prove Native American ancestry was probably a smart move

The Washington Post
2018-03-14

Tara Bahrampour

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) rejected a call this week by a Massachusetts newspaper to take a DNA test to prove her Native American heritage, saying it is a cherished piece of family lore and noting that she has never used it to get ahead.

She might also add that such a test may not prove anything — or at least it couldn’t establish the absence of Native American ancestry her critics might be hoping to find.

If Warren were to take one of the widely available commercial “spit tests” and DNA related to a Native American tribe showed up, she would have positive proof that her family stories are true.

But if no such DNA were evident, that would not mean she didn’t have Native American ancestry…

Read the entire article here.

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There’s No Scientific Basis for Race—It’s a Made-Up Label

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2018-03-13 18:09Z by Steven

There’s No Scientific Basis for Race—It’s a Made-Up Label

National Geographic
April 2018 (The Race Issue)

By Elizabeth Kolbert
Photographs by Robin Hammond


The four letters of the genetic code —A, C, G, and T—are projected onto Ryan Lingarmillar, a Ugandan. DNA reveals what skin color obscures: We all have African ancestors.

It’s been used to define and separate people for millennia. But the concept of race is not grounded in genetics.

In the first half of the 19th century, one of America’s most prominent scientists was a doctor named Samuel Morton. Morton lived in Philadelphia, and he collected skulls.

He wasn’t choosy about his suppliers. He accepted skulls scavenged from battlefields and snatched from catacombs. One of his most famous craniums belonged to an Irishman who’d been sent as a convict to Tasmania (and ultimately hanged for killing and eating other convicts). With each skull Morton performed the same procedure: He stuffed it with pepper seeds—later he switched to lead shot—which he then decanted to ascertain the volume of the braincase.

Morton believed that people could be divided into five races and that these represented separate acts of creation. The races had distinct characters, which corresponded to their place in a divinely determined hierarchy. Morton’s “craniometry” showed, he claimed, that whites, or “Caucasians,” were the most intelligent of the races. East Asians—Morton used the term “Mongolian”—though “ingenious” and “susceptible of cultivation,” were one step down. Next came Southeast Asians, followed by Native Americans. Blacks, or “Ethiopians,” were at the bottom. In the decades before the Civil War, Morton’s ideas were quickly taken up by the defenders of slavery…


Skulls from the collection of Samuel Morton, the father of scientific racism, illustrate his classification of people into five races—which arose, he claimed, from separate acts of creation. From left to right: a black woman and a white man, both American; an indigenous man from Mexico; a Chinese woman; and a Malaysian man.
Photograph by Robert Clark
PHOTOGRAPHED AT PENN MUSEUM

…By analyzing the genes of present-day Africans, researchers have concluded that the Khoe-San, who now live in southern Africa, represent one of the oldest branches of the human family tree. The Pygmies of central Africa also have a very long history as a distinct group. What this means is that the deepest splits in the human family aren’t between what are usually thought of as different races—whites, say, or blacks or Asians or Native Americans. They’re between African populations such as the Khoe-San and the Pygmies, who spent tens of thousands of years separated from one another even before humans left Africa

Read the entire article here.

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