In September, 2013, The African Diaspora: Integrating Culture, Genomics and History was held at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC. Sadly, I had commitments elsewhere and could not attend.
The National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of Natural History held a full-day symposium that brought together scholars, scientists and practitioners from various disciplines who are exploring the African Diaspora throughout historical, cultural and genomic lenses with the purpose of understanding a person’s ancestry and how that impacts individual health and collective identity.
The symposium’s objectives were to foster interdisciplinary dialog on what we can learn about:
- Ancestral history from genomic information and historical records.
- Ethnic identity and cultural diversity from historical and genomic information.
- The arts and culture from ancestral information.
I was not able to attend, but reports from those who did were very positive. Fortunately, the videos are now available to view, for free.
Furthermore, I’d like to mention that one of the papers I co-authored with Jack Goins, Janet Crain and Penny Ferguson, “Melungeons: A Multi-Ethnic Population” was cited by Dr. Linda Heywood.
Dr. Linda Heywood is a Professor of African American Studies and History at Boston University. I was impressed with her throughout this panel discussion. At about 6:48 she discussed identity, and her comment, “History, it’s personal, it’s communal, it’s national, it’s identity.”
She mentions our paper at about 57:46. At 22:54 she comments about various Africans being incorporated into the Portuguese settlements in Africa before being shipped out as slaves, something we also mentioned in our paper. And finally at 1:15:00 she referred to the paper again as a resource.
I was also very impressed with Dr. Sarah Tiskoff and was disappointed to see that there were not any individual sessions by her.
I hope you’ll take an opportunity to watch a few of these videos, and a big thank you to the Smithsonian for making them available.