The recent proliferation of DNA testing in both popular culture and higher education calls to question whether such testing reifies race as a biological construct and, in particular, whether or not it disrupts or reinforces monoracial categorizations. Graduate students, who are often at a point in their educational journeys to further question and critique commonly held ideas, provide a unique lens through which to investigate discourses surrounding DNA testing. In this qualitative study, we analyze data from four focus groups with 22 racially diverse U.S. graduate students who had recently completed an ancestry test. We identify two specific discourses that graduate student participants engaged in, including (a) a biological race discourse and (b) an agentic choice discourse. Together, these discourses produced distinct unsettled subjectivities for Black and White participants. Our findings suggest the need to more critically consider the usage of DNA ancestry testing in and out of higher education and to provide further nuance around the validity of these tests as they relate to the social construction of race.
Mohajeri, O., Johnston-Guerrero, M. P., Foeman, A. K., & Lawton, B. L. (2023). DNA Ancestry Testing and Racial Discourse in Higher Education: How the (Re)Biologization of Race (Un)Settles Monoracialism for Graduate Students. Genealogy, 7(2), 1-17. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/genealogy7020042