DNA-Supported Ancestral Tourism

DNA-Supported Ancestral Tourism

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted June 11, 2007 in DNA and Genealogy

scotland kilts bagpipesSound the bagpipes! Scotland wants to distribute free DIY DNA kits as part of their efforts to drum up tourism. Dr. John Gow, director of the Centre for Forensic Investigation at Glasgow Caledonian University:

It is our intention to have DNA swabbing kits in all the tourist information offices and hotel lobbies across the UK, so people can go and pick up a kit for a few pounds then post it off to us and we will do the DNA tests for them.

We are also hoping that during Tartan Week in New York and at international highland gatherings, the genealogy companies will take along our test kits and distribute them.

Participants would not only find out which clan they belong to, they will also be contributing to a DNA database of Scottish and Irish clan groups. VisitScotland believes that DNA testing will be a draw for ancestral tourists who might want to “walk in the footsteps of their ancestors.”

As a Chinese-American, I’m acutely aware of the limitations of genetic genealogy for studying Chinese ancestry. While some Chinese clan societies maintain clear records, I know few people personally outside of Asia who are tightly linked to one. And then there’s the DNA test that can reputedly test for a link to the Confucius family tree available through the Beijing Genomics Institute. Given the number of Chinese people around the world, DNA-supported ancestral tourism in China is potentially lucrative. But I’d perhaps be a little cautious about submitting DNA to the People’s Republic of China given their political and societal inclinations.

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Comment by Kristina

I feel more than a little cautious about doing that!

One thing that would be interesting to know—-my maternal grandfather was adopted and who knows who is parents might have been.

Comment by Hsien

On a somewhat related note about adoption in China, there are a number of groups in the US that try to match DNA from siblings adopted out of China. Will the wonders of DNA technology never cease? :D

Comment by Keith Robison

Well, this might solve the mystery as to whether we are Scottish or Welsh (or can it? Aye, there’s the rub) — the records are a bit hazy due to an ancestor being orphaned.

On the other hand, I have never been at all tempted to try haggis, so I’m probably Welsh. :-)

Comment by Hsien

If you got your DNA analyzed and compared the marker data against others in the database with your surname or related surnames, I bet you could exclude some possibilities. If you do it, share your results with us!

Comment by David Bradley

It’s irrelevant, the Scottish are Welsh! At least that’s the tabloid headline I glimpsed t’other day…


Comment by Hsien

Who knows. Maybe I’m Scottish! I do like plaid….

Comment by alicia Subscribed to comments via email

Hmm…if these things become popular, will it mean Maury Povich may have to choose a new topic for his talk shows each day? :P

Comment by Hsien

lol Nothing’s as sensational as “Who’s Yo Daddy??”

Oh dear. Maybe that was very un-PC.


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