Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Invisible History of the Human Race - how DNA and history shape our identies and our futures

A recent television drama series, Code of a Killer, on ABC2 was based on the first case of using DNA fingerprinting techniques to solve a murder. DNA testing has become an accepted part of our lives. DNA is often used by archaeologists to test biological samples from skeletons to help determine their age. Studying a person's DNA can also be used medically to detect family patterns of diseases. Part of the book is also spent looking at eugenics and how theories of eugenics influenced the leaders of the Nazi Party.

In the Invisible History of the Human Race, Christine Kenneally, investigates how our DNA can help tell us of our past. Her theory is that a study of our DNA cannot only help us understand our biological history but also our social history. Increasingly DNA tests are being used as a tool to assist researchers determine family connections as well as exploring the paper trail of history. DNA is also used to investigate how peoples, such as the Vikings, settling in England mixed, over time, with the local populations.

This is not necessarily an easy book to read for those of us without an advanced science background, however it does contain some interesting theories to think about, particularly in relation to historical research.

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