New Routes to Mixed “Roots”

Kimberly DaCosta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Developments in reproductive (e.g., assisted reproduction, surrogacy) and genetic technologies (commercial DNA ancestry testing) have opened new routes to mixedness that disrupt the relationship between multiracialism and family. Discussions of racial mixedness, both academic and lay, tend to refer to persons born to parents of different racialized ancestry. Multiracialism is also understood as an outcome of extended generational descent—a family lineage comprised of ancestors of varied “races”. Both modes of mixed subjectivity rely on a notion of race as transmitted through sexual reproduction, and our study of them has often focused on the implications of this boundary crossing for families. These routes to mixedness imply a degree of intimacy and “knownness” between partners, with implications for the broader web of relationships into which one is born or marries. Assisted reproduction allows for the intentional creation of mixed-race babies outside of sexual reproduction and relationship. These technologies make possible mixed race by design, in which one can choose an egg or sperm donor on the basis of their racial difference, without knowing the donor beyond a set of descriptive characteristics. Commercial DNA testing produces another route to mixedness—mixed by revelation—in which previously unknown mixed ancestry is revealed through genetic testing. Ancestry tests, however, deal in estimations of biogenetic markers, rather than specific persons. To varying degrees, these newer routes to mixedness reconfigure the nexus of biogenetic substance and kinship long foregrounded in American notions of mixedness, expand the contours of mixed-race subjectivity, and reshape notions of interracial relatedness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number60
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • ancestry
  • assisted reproduction
  • genealogy
  • interracial intimacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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