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Title: Becoming a Viking: DNA Testing, genetic ancestry and placeholder identity
Authors: Scully, Marc D.
Brown, Steven D.
King, Turi E.
First Published: 14-Dec-2015
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles
Citation: Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2016, 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 characterized 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’.
DOI Link: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1105991
ISSN: 0141-9870
eISSN: 1466-4356
Embargo on file until: 1-Jan-10000
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © Taylor & Francis. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ethnic and Racial Studies on 14 December 2015, available online: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1105991
Description: The file associated with this record is under an 18-month embargo from publication in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy, available at The full text may be available in the publisher links provided above.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Historical Studies

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