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Cracking Open the Black Box of Genetic Ancestry Testing

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Title:Cracking Open the Black Box of Genetic Ancestry Testing
Authors:Donovan, Joan
Pasquetto, Irene
Pierre, Jennifer
Keywords:Critical and Ethical Studies of Digital and Social Media
social media, online communities, race studies, critical data studies
Date Issued:03 Jan 2018
Abstract:Stormfront, a well-known online forum for white nationalists, is a place for discussions about race, nation, and biology. We analyzed how members shared and discussed genetic ancestry tests (GATs), which revealed a complicated network of boundary maintenance, identity formation and justification, and biosociality within this online community. Using selection of seventy Stormfront threads discussing GAT results, this study employs primarily digital ethnographic methods to investigate how white nationalists navigate questions of self and community online. Using scientific concepts, genetic data, and multiple databases, white nationalists rely on the ambiguity of genetics and the black boxing of algorithms provided by testing companies to redefine white identity while also remaining committed to biologically-informed conceptions of race. This research raises important questions about the role of scientific data in racial formations.
Pages/Duration:10 pages
Rights:Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Appears in Collections: Critical and Ethical Studies of Digital and Social Media

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