Genealogy Adventures

The concepts of Race vs Culture – an introduction

The more regular visitors to this blog will no doubt realize I’ve gone a bit quiet over the past week or so. I’ve been grappling with a concept that I’ve been struggling to get a handle on…much less commit to print.

My genealogy adventures has taken twists and turns I could have never foreseen. How grateful I’ve been for the ride, let alone the journey! This is one of those times. I’ve had a very recent epiphany regarding the concepts of Race and Culture. I’m not capitalizing these words simply for emphasis – but to highlight their conceptual nature. That was part of my ultimate realization – these two things are just that…concepts. Man made concepts at that. And the intersection between these two concepts will form the basis of the next couple of posts.

I appreciate that what comes as pure and simple logic to me will more than likely prove controversial to others. I’m pretty nonplussed when it comes to push-back. Like any academic, I’ll welcome the conversation and debate. What I’ll be writing about isn’t meant to be controversial. I’m merely sharing an insight that I’ve had. Others will either think about it and have their own realizations – or they won’t.

So how did this light-bulb moment I’m grappling with come about? Two simply brilliant sources of information that discuss genetic admixtures. Yep, more DNA stuff 🙂 Genetic admixtures happen when people from two different cultures produce children. For instance, say a Han man from China has children with a Yoruba woman from Africa. This scenario isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds! Their children’s DNA will have a mixture of Han Chinese and Yoruba African DNA – an admixture. That admixture gets passed down their descendants’ lines as per the usual rules of DNA inheritance. In other words, it gets passed down through subsequent generations. This is a simplification, but one that serves to explain a complicated fact in a very straightforward way. One thing to realize – every human being on the planet has all manner of admixtures in his or her DNA.


The two information sources which jostled me along this particular road of personal discovery are below. They’re worth investigating. On the one hand, they are both simply fascinating. I keep returning to them. Secondly, understanding them, and understanding their implications, will help you understand my epiphany about Race and Culture.

And if this is all sounding somewhat familiar? Well, I tentatively broached this subject in my post DNA: Going beyond a single racial or cultural identity. In my next post, I’ll be going much deeper. I’ve gained a far deeper realization over the past few days than the basic outline broached in that initial post.

If this subject interests you, these are the two sources that are worth checking out:

Wade, Nicholas. 2014. Tracing Ancestry, Researchers Produce a Genetic Atlas of Human Mixing Events, The New York Times. 13 February 2014.; and

Human Admixture events
A genetic atlas of human admixture history,
An interactive historical admixture map and companion website for “A genetic atlas of human admixture history“, Hellenthal et al, Science (2014).

Happy investigating!

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