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Title: In the blood: the myth and reality of genetic markers of identity
Authors: Jobling, Mark A.
Rasteiro, Rita
Wetton, Jon H.
First Published: 14-Dec-2015
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Citation: Ethnic and Racial Studies, 2016, 39(2), pp. 142-161
Abstract: The differences between copies of the human genome are very small, but tend to cluster in different populations. So, despite the fact that low inter-population differentiation does not support a biological definition of races statistical methods are nonetheless claimed to be able to predict successfully the population of origin of a DNA sample. Such methods are employed in commercial genetic ancestry tests, and particular genetic signatures, often in the male-specific Y-chromosome or maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA, have become widely identified with particular ancestral or existing groups, such as Vikings, Jews, or Zulus. Here, we provide a primer on genetics, and describe how genetic markers have become associated with particular groups. We describe the conflict between population genetics and individual-based genetics and the pitfalls of over-simplistic genetic interpretations, arguing that although the tests themselves are reliable, the interpretations are unreliable and strongly influenced by cultural and other social forces.
DOI Link: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1105990
ISSN: 0141-9870
eISSN: 1466-4356
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2015, Taylor & Francis. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ethnic and Racial Studies on 14 Dec 2015, available online:
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, Dept. of Genetics

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