Nathan Schultz, Who Was She? Blog Post

Genetic testing could be an interesting fun fact for people by finding out exactly the amount they are of different ethnicities or dependencies. As the article brought up, there can be some unintended side-effects such as finding out you are not related to your family. It does bring up a larger question regarding identity being related to genetics rather than upbringing. For Plebuch she was lost without the genetic backup for her own cultural identity.

Plebuch has a bizarre story that caused her world to turn upside down by learning her family was not her family. As her family was not really her own even her beloved cousin she was not really related to. Going from thinking she was Irish to being genetically Jewish sending her identity into struggle. Eventual finding that the members of her family were switched at birth causing her generic and only. Through the genetic test, she found out the truth and how she really was genetically and even found family members that were related to her, the truth is better than a lie.

 Personally, I think one’s culture is different from their genetics, but the fact that in the American conscious the idea of percentages of dependencies is prevalent does cause this effect to emerge. My family has some deep-rooted German traditions there are celebrated as our heritage. Things like a German song we sing during Christmas or a German children’s prayer that has been passed down the generations or even a potato pancake recipe with whole allspice are intangible cultural elements regardless of our genetics. If one connects genetics to culture then it creates a world where we care about the scientific aspects of our genome rather than the rich cultural traditions that families have practiced for generations. Imagine someone who thought they were Scottish and got married in a kilt then found out they should have been where lederhosen instead. It does not change one, but since it most scientific it is view as more correct. The worst possible case situation regarding the prevalence of these new genetic test is some sort of neo-eugenic movements where you generic record can be used against you. At the end of the day, is the most surprising thing about Plebuch story is that she abandoned her culture after finding out her genetics. The deep personal shock of her family was profound and cataclysmic for her which is a personal struggle. I believe that culture and tradition are stronger than genetics and family is strong than it all. 

 

3 thoughts on “Nathan Schultz, Who Was She? Blog Post

  1. I agree with you that a person’s heritage is not necessarily defined by their genetics alone, and I greatly appreciate your personal story regarding your German traditions, as this further clarifies your point. Just because Plebuch discovered she was half Jewish, this does not mean her traditions are required to shift to accommodate this newly found genetic anomaly. If she grew up surrounded by Irish culture, and this is how she chooses to identify, her choice is completely valid given her condition of not knowing her father’s true heritage. Regardless, as you said, genetics do not play a large role in a person’s daily life, therefore, they should not always control a person’s identification and self-worth.

  2. I agree with you that the traditions a person grows up with are more integral to their identity than their racial or ethnic background, and I was also shocked when Alice immediately questioned not only her Irish heritage but even her familial bonds. It was as if her entire upbringing did not compare to the statistical data. In my experience, I have noticed this kind of trend among people who take these recreational DNA tests. They will often make claims to an entirely new heritage and abandon the one they have always had as a part of a new trend. I always found this to be strange because it seems superficial. A person’s identity is influenced by their environment and is not inherently linked to their racial or ethnic background. Therefore, it seems odd to me for people to make claims to a heritage they knew nothing of prior because they discover a new line of DNA in them. The belief that heritage and identity are intrinsically linked, as Alice implied in her devastation at discovering she was not really ethnically Irish, also complicates subjects like national identity. It can easily be used to justify detrimental movements like ethno-nationalism by asserting only people of a certain biological background are allowed to make claims to heritage roots of a given country or nation.

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