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Family History & DNA - The Science of Identity

Family History & DNA - The Science of Identity

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  • Tue 11 Oct ’16, 6:30pm – 8:00pm


Central City Library, 44-46 Lorne St, Auckland CBD


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

Bridging the tension between cultural and genetic histories.

All welcome. Bookings are recommended. Refreshments will be served from 5:30pm.

A sense of identity is usually formed over time by memetic (or cultural) history, while revelations of genetic identity often happen in an instant. DNA tests can reveal multiple stories at play, creating a dichotomy where cultural histories conflict with genetic background.

Dr. Carla Houkamau from the University of Auckland (Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Porou), and family historian as well as Ancestry international spokesperson, Brad Argent, will explore the concept of identity, and what it means to be a contemporary New Zealander in an increasingly multicultural society.

Seminar speakers:
- Dr. Carla Houkamau, Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland
- Brad Argent, Family Historian & International Spokesperson, Ancestry

When it comes to identity, many of us have grown up thinking that we are a part of a singular story, yet our identity is informed by many factors, including culture, community and oral traditions, as well as family history informed by lineage and records.

Memetic (cultural) as well as genetic (DNA) histories can play a role in the formation of identity. With the rise of products such as AncestryDNA, discovering one’s ethnic background and finding people with whom you share a common ancestor have become increasingly more accessible. In addition, as databases have grown to more than two million people globally, that information is becoming more accurate and comprehensive.

In this seminar, University of Auckland senior lecturer Dr. Carla Houkamau will discuss the diversity evident in Māori society today in terms of cultural, social as well as political differences, and how identifying as Māori can be shaped by socialisation and family relationships.

Ancestry’s international spokesperson, Brad Argent, will explore how ethnicity identified through DNA tests can confirm or disrupt a person's notion of identity. In some cases, the genetic and memetic dichotomy can see them reassessing who they really are.

Speaker's Backgrounds:
Dr. Carla Houkamau is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and International Business at the University of Auckland, where she specialises in the areas of personal identity, intercultural communication, and diversity management. Carla is of Pākehā and Māori descent, specifically Ngāti Kahungunu (Ngāti Kere) and Ngāti Porou (Whanau o Tu-Whakairiora), and has a special interest in psychological (particularly social psychological) understandings of identity, particularly with regard to contemporary Māori identity.

Brad Argent is a family historian and international spokesperson for Ancestry, as well as an expert on the AncestryDNA product. Based in Europe, Brad has recently been featured in a video series created by international travel search site Momondo, which showed how we are more genetically connected than we might at first assume. The clips have been viewed more than 100 million times on a number of social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube.

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