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Title: Becoming a Viking: DNA testing, genetic ancestry and placeholder identity
Authors: Scully, Marc D.
Brown, Steven D.
King, Turi
Keywords: Popular science
Viking ancestry
Applied genetic history
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: © Taylor & Francis
Citation: SCULLY, M.D., BROWN, S.D. and KING, T., 2016. Becoming a Viking: DNA testing, genetic ancestry and placeholder identity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 39 (2), pp.162-180.
Abstract: 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 characterised 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’.
Description: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ethnic and Racial Studies on 14 Dec 2015, available online: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2016.1105991
Sponsor: The authors gratefully acknowledge financial support from the Leverhulme Trust under Programme Grant F/00 212/AM.
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1105991
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/19565
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2016.1105991
ISSN: 1466-4356
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Communication, Media, Social and Policy Studies)

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