Genealogy research and identity

Dutch-ness in Genes and Genealogy: following genetic diversity around science and society


  1. What is Dutch-ness made to be in emergent research and research practices?
  2. How does Dutch-ness relate to other identities produced?
  3. What is the relation between genetic and more socio-cultural identities?
  4. How and in which specific contexts are identities naturalized and performed as race?

Duration: March 2010 - June 2013

This research project has studied emergent identities in the interaction between science and society in the Netherlands. It has examined specific cases, namely, archaeological practices in the Netherlands, in which genetic technologies are mobilized to contribute with knowledge about national, local, individual, familial, or ethnic identities. 

The researchers studied excavations and post-excavation work in the three Dutch cities of Eindhoven, Oldenzaal and Vlaadingen. These cities, being situated in their specific historical, geographical and socio-cultural location within the Netherlands, strive to produce regional identity, or region-ness, by providing more knowledge about the city. They do so in collaboration with geneticists, archivists, historian, physical anthropologists as well as artists including archaeology painters and theater players. Some main findings regarding Dutch-ness and the role of DNA technologies are as follows:

  1. Dutch-ness is multiply enacted in the various regions where identities are being shaped. In this process of shaping local and regional identities various versions of the Netherlands are produced.   
  2. In a number of archaeology practices in the Netherlands, DNA technologies are increasingly involved in producing more knowledge about regions. It produces a duration between the here and now and the there and then. DNA thus functions as the glue that helps to stich different kinds of knowledges (based on archaeological fact, historical accounts, genealogical insights) in a coherent and concrete story, seemingly linked to a place. 

Among all, the most remarkable finding of the research is that DNA, in the context of archaeology practice, is not only aimed at making the identity of people, but also places. In other words: DNA is giving an identity to a place.