[-empyre-] rehearsal of a network - [week 3]

BStalbaum bstalbaum at ucsd.edu
Tue Jun 19 05:45:22 AEST 2018

DNA kits have become hilarious, painfully unaware self parodies of the 
will toward cultural appropriation. (Just for one example: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84LnTrQ2us8 ) Of course I say this as a 
citizen of the U.S. Our context is particular and perverse, one in which 
some substantial proportion of the white population believes they are in 
the "blood line" (we still have a lot of strong premodern beliefs like 
"the blood"...) of indigenous North American peoples. Most of whom we 
killed, so the common case of whites who make very strong claims to 
native ancestry is particularly perverse. It is only ~100 years since 
the open, armed hunting of native people was still taking place here, 
basically unopposed by civil society, even in now liberal California. 
Actually I live in one of the last places in the US where this genocidal 
practice was commonly practiced, and is well documented. But people in 
my state hardly own up to it, and my own University system is deeply 
implicated. (Look up the history of Kroeber Hall at Berkeley, for 
example.) To put a personal spin on the matter, I have a couple of true 
believers in my own very white family. Honestly, people who have "dream 
catchers", believe they are part of a tribe - they are not registered 
and can not register with any actual tribe - and who believe that their 
blood puts them in deeper touch with the spirits of the land. I am not 
popular at family events, as you might imagine;-) Calling these false 
beliefs out, even among whites only, is still quite incendiary here.

An other example of the obscene nature of this common identity theft 
comes in the figure of US senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. She 
was raised with these false beliefs, that she had natives in her family 
tree, and yes I do believe she has suffered a lot of well deserved 
embarrassment in the process of slowly coming around to personally 
owning her false family narrative. She is an otherwise sympathetic 
figure in most ways, and I should note, our president has belittled her 
in an explicitly racist manner, demonstrating the continuum between the 
soft and hard forms of racism in my country.

DNA is fraught, we should be very careful call it out when we see it 
used as an identity prop for cultural appropriation. Our networks are 
full of this kind of theft and positioning, as if such reductive DNA 
results can possibly mean more than our experience within the more 
tangible web of social relations; how we individually experience 
privilege and discrimination. (Including generational effects.)

Or that your DNA is what makes you a German or a Scot, as in the 
ridiculous commercial for Ancestry [.com] But in the US, the commercial 
shows how common these weird and often racist beliefs are. It is so 
sick, I feel like there must be lot of cultural specificity to it. I'd 
love to hear about how these DNA kits are playing out in other places.

On 06/18/2018 07:37 AM, lizvlx wrote:
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