Aaron Panofsky, ISG faculty, and Joan Donovan, former ISG postdoctoral fellow now at Data & Society Research Institute, have published a paper titled “When Genetics Challenges a Racist’s Identity: Genetic Ancestry Testing among White Nationalists,” August 17, 2017.
This paper considers the emergence of new forms of race-making using a qualitative analysis of online discussions of individuals’ genetic ancestry test (GAT) results on the white nationalist website Stormfront. Seeking genetic confirmation of personal identities, white nationalists often confront information they consider evidence of non-white or nonEuropean ancestry. Despite their essentialist views of race, much less than using the information to police individuals’ membership, posters expend considerable energy to repair identities by rejecting or reinterpreting GAT results. Simultaneously, however, Stormfront posters use the particular relationships made visible by GATs to re-imagine the collective boundaries and constitution of white nationalism. Bricoleurs with genetic knowledge, white nationalists use a “racial realist” interpretive framework that departs from canons of genetic science but cannot be dismissed simply as ignorant.