Unearthing the Untold Truth Through Generational Storytelling: A Journey Through Genealogical and Genetic Records to Document My Family History
As a student in the Honors course, Genetics and Genealogy at NSU (Winter 2019), I began my journey to uncover my deep (more than several thousand years ago) and near (the past several hundred years) genetic and genealogical family history. Tracing my journey through my own DNA and family stories allowed me to better understand my origins, as well as develop a deep connection with my culture and my parents’ homeland of Pakistan that often feels distant as I am a Florida native. Genetic results from that course yielded that my regional ancestry is 86% Northern India, 11% Southern India, 2% Northern Africa, and 1% unassigned. The South Asian aspect of my findings reflects the major ancient migration from Africa through the Indian subcontinent. Through mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) studies of deep ancestry, scientists have discovered that all people originated from Africa and belong to the L1 haplogroup. This L1 haplogroup branched out into L2, which reflects people who stayed in Africa, and L3 which reflects people who left Africa (mitomap.org). In accordance with this known pattern, my mtDNA revealed my oldest ancestor belongs to the L1 branch followed by the L3 branch from about 67,000 years ago in East Africa. My most recent ancestors through my mtDNA show that I belong to haplogroup H2 reflecting more recent migration patterns. From Central Asia, members of this H2 lineage have spread to Europe and in more recent times across West Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. Based on ancestral genetic testing through the National Genographic Project, 2019, I share 1.4% genetic makeup with Neanderthals, which is less than the average person in the database who shares 2.1% similarity with Neanderthal DNA. This research left me with several remaining questions regarding who I am and how my family’s near ancestry has shaped my identity. This has led to me complete additional research into my family’s deep and near ancestry and develop a more extensive family history narrative. I have conducted further research focusing on my family narrative and the three major themes of love, migration history, and even sectarian violence/seeking refuge (between India and Pakistan, as well as within Pakistan) throughout the past one hundred years, by focusing on my grandparents’ and parents’ journey and how it has influenced the process of my own self-discovery. By working on my own ethnographic memoir, I will specifically focus on how my family’s story of love accounts for who I am as a daughter of immigrant parents, as an academic student, and who I am becoming as I work on this form of this life-writing. Additionally, by incorporating further genetic testing of myself and my father, I hope to illuminate trends through our family’s deeper ancestry, pushing our story farther back by thousands of years. By sharing my genealogical and genetic journey, my work will serve as a guide to others who are looking to understand their individual identity through an exploration of their cultural and/or ancestral identity.
Abbas, Feza, "Unearthing the Untold Truth Through Generational Storytelling: A Journey Through Genealogical and Genetic Records to Document My Family History" (2019). Genetics and Genealogy Family History Narratives. 11.