Blondes, Lost and Found: Representations of Genes, Identity, and History
Gísli Pálsson1 and Agnar Helgason2


Research carried out during recent decades has revealed our genome not only to be a unique mine of information about health, disease and the human condition, but also about the origin and dispersal history of the species. In this context, the genome is simply an additional source of information about human history, epistemologically no different from other historical sources. However, media and public interpretation of genetic studies of human history are complicated by the wider connotations of genes as the determinants of hereditary features and identity. We discuss two examples of media and public fascination with the interrelated themes of history, identity and heredity, pointing out some implications of historical research using genetic data in the context of our own ongoing study of Inuit groups in Greenland and Victoria Island, Canada.