View Full Version : Researching Genealogical History
05-23-2008, 11:10 PM
Has anyone had performed their own research, or commissioned research to look into their ancestry? I'm considering sending my DNA to a lab, but I'd like to build on the experiences of others regarding what would be the most comprehensive option.
05-23-2008, 11:38 PM
I have not done so myself, although for a while my mother spent considerable time doing so. What struck me most about attempting to find the truth on ones ancestry, is how much rumour and innacurate information winds its way down via word of mouth through families, regarding their origins. So there is a strong emotional/ego bias that has to be carefully avoided. Birth and Death records,old newspapers, and historical societies are much more usefull. As for DNA testing, there seems to be a lot of exagerrated claims about its accuracy, from what I can tell. Like so many things, everyone wants to make a quick buck.
Does anyone know which companies in the world offer the most exact DNA testing regarding migration and ethnic origins? (I guess its not something your typical consumer review organisation would cover)
05-24-2008, 01:15 AM
Yes, that's exactly my concern. I did some passing reading on DNA tracing and learned that it has inherent flaws. I'm also aware that these companies are out to make a profit. It's also interesting that you mention that there is a strong emotional/ego bias. I think part of my decision to want to do this is to address that bias.
My parents are both Taiwanese, I'm also proud of my Taiwanese heritage. I have been active in the Taiwanese community and I have also lobbied on behalf of Taiwan, while believing that protecting democracy on Taiwan is in the best interest of the United States. Identifying with Taiwan has also lead me to embrace my American identity, through aforementioned political involvement. Obviously, being of this descent has my emotional investment.
The issues I've lobbied for in the past revolve around China's encroachment on Taiwan. The claims and politics surrounding that issue can be deserving of its own discussion, but I bring it up because of the issues it presents for this individual. Though Taiwan does have its indigenous inhabitants (Polynesian), most of the population today arrived from the mainland. Admittedly, I have ancestry from the mainland, though I cannot trace it. What I do know is that my mother's side of the family has been on Taiwan for at least 200 years. There is a part of me that wants to cling on to my Taiwanese identity, perhaps I may even have Polynesian blood in me. It should be apparent that there's a part of me that wants to distance myself from the mainland.
Taiwan has existed in my mind as a place that embodies the people that have suffered at the hands of a dictator (Chiang Kai Shek), that have persevered to succeed in forming Asia's most vibrant democracy. In one of my trips back, I attended a tour held by a respected survivor of the White Terror Era. This man was jailed during that era for political activism. We all had the fortune of meeting his daughter, who described the day policemen killed her two sisters and grandmother. She also described her own thoughts that day as she lay in bed expecting to die. She also recounted that doctors were afraid to treat her. To me, there's something noble about being Taiwanese.
Contrast this to how China has been portrayed in the media, and my own experiences of China, I find it difficult to reconcile that part of me is derived from there, though the China that exists today is vastly different from the China of my ancestors. While watching the move "Lust, Caution", whose characters were members of the government that subsequently fled to Taiwan, and committed the acts I described, I felt uneased by being able to identify those people as human.
In reality, I am able to interact with the Chinese with the fullest integrity of my character, as I would the next human being, but there's a part of me in conflict when I'm alone.
The reason I want to have this DNA report done is to bring this conflict to light, so that I can present myself with the discomfort that's a product of my rooted impulse.
This brings many questions about the composition, need, and influence of identity into play.
I rambled a lot in this post, but I didn't want to impose structure on it for the sake of letting things surface.
If there's enough interest in this topic, I might be willing to share my results if my intent ever manifests itself. It would make for an interesting discussion.
05-24-2008, 05:06 AM
Rambling on is fine here im sure, no need to apologise for detail! Thats a pretty intense and deep overview you gave there, which I thank you for. Not easy being so honest. Considering what you have described, I think DNA testing is perfectly justified and may just help you more than trying to dig up information that may be dead and buried (excuse the pun). Im not sure if it would help you but many minds are better than one, so maybe you could join some of the many geneology forums that now abound all over the web. Im sure some of the other members here will have much better suggestions than mine, so be sure to check back here in a day or two!
05-26-2008, 03:03 PM
You're welcome, PurpleFnords. I guess I'm kind of blessed with being emotionally honest with myself, I've been this way ever since I was young and I don't know what cause is responsible for mine being this way (sometimes it feels like a curse, though). It's interesting to think that we sometimes aren't cognizant of the origin of the most influential aspects of our lives.
05-26-2008, 05:13 PM
My grandmother has done a lot of this on her (my mother's) side of the family, and I believe my great aunt (father's side, grandmother's sister) has done a fair amount as well. All that information is currently sitting at my home, and it's fascinating to go through what is really a large collection of photographs and information.
And while it's true you need to keep family ego in mind, it can also be fascinating to find out what hasn't been told. Until a few years ago, nobody in my family knew that my great grandfather fought in WWI (since he had never mentioned it) until a few photos were found of him, either in full uniform, or in camp.
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