Leah Lowthorp

Resident Scholar
Assistant Professor
Anthropology and Folklore

"DNA Identities: Narrative and Authority in Genetic Ancestry Performance on YouTube"

The recent rise of direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry testing has had profound implications for identity. This project considers one genre of identity performance: the genetic ancestry test “reveal” on YouTube. It explores these performances by asking questions about the authority performers grant test results to inform racial and/or ethnic identities, the hierarchies of knowledge created when test results contradict family histories, and what these performances reveal about conceptions of biological determinism today. At a moment that elevates the technological over other forms of knowledge, this project considers online identity performance as part of the folklore of a genomic age.