Date of Award

Winter 1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Lynn Horton

Second Advisor

Dr. John Emery

Third Advisor

Dr. Tekle Woldemikael


DNA ancestry tests have emerged in the past two decades as a exponentially growing industry, and advertisements for these products in recent years have permeated households throughout the global West. This research explores the history of nation and race as human social categories and how these concepts relate to modern studies on the consumers of DNA ancestry tests and participants in the hobby of genealogy. Using both quantitative and qualitative content analysis on key pages from the websites of top DNA ancestry testing companies, this research identifies examples of advertising where historical oppression is ignored in favor of highlighting pseudoscientific ideas about identity and enforcing a female gender role as caretaker of both family genetics and cultural traditions. Findings on how DNA ancestry tests are already interpreted by consumers note that white nationalist groups already favor them for promoting claims about the genetic reality of racial categorizations and the existence of genetic purity. The implications of this research are useful in understanding what messages about identity consumers have absorbed from interaction with DNA ancestry companies already, and what future target audiences including children may learn through company advertising.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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