Radio Atlantic: The Politics of Ancestry

Executive Editor Matt Thompson and the staff writer Sarah Zhang join the Cherokee writer and organizer Rebecca Nagle to discuss DNA tests, Elizabeth Warren, and how we define heritage.

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Senator Elizabeth Warren recently shared results of a genetic analysis to back up her family’s story of Cherokee ancestry, hoping to blunt a favorite Republican attack line. The move backfired. A DNA result does not confer a Cherokee heritage. And in general, efforts to link our genetics with our ethnic or cultural identities have a long and sordid history. So what’s more revealing: the results of DNA tests like Warren’s? Or what we try to find in them?


- “The First DNA Test as Political Stunt” (Sarah Zhang, October 15, 2018)
- “Trump, Warren, and America's Racial Essentialism” (Vann R. Newkirk II, October 16, 2018)
- “Your DNA Is Not Your Culture” (Sarah Zhang, September 25, 2018)
- “When White Nationalists Get DNA Tests That Reveal African Ancestry” (Sarah Zhang, August 17, 2017)
- "Radio Atlantic: Becoming White in America" (Kevin Townsend, April 13, 2018)