Knowing something versus feeling different: the effects and non-effects of genetic ancestry on racial identity

Janet K. Shim, Sonia Rab Alam, Bradley E. Aouizerat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Since the completion of the Human Genome Project, there have been pitched debates about its implications and the research it enables. One prominent thread of concern focuses on the role of post-genomic science on technically enabling and generating interest in genetic ancestry testing (GAT). Critical analyses of GAT have pointed to multiple issues, raising the alarm on consumers’ experiences with such technologies. This paper describes the results of a pilot study in which we tracked women’s experiences receiving their genetic ancestry results, and their understandings of, reactions to, and valuing of this information over time. Overwhelmingly, our participants reported a curious combination of anticipation and satisfaction yet no discernable impact on their sense of self or racial identity. We elaborate on the effects and non-effects of GAT for the women in our study, and how we make sense of their simultaneous experiences of ‘knowing something’ but not ‘feeling different.’.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-66
Number of pages23
JournalNew Genetics and Society
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018

Keywords

  • genetic ancestry
  • racial identity
  • return of results

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Genetics
  • Health Policy

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