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Mapping out the borders of whiteness March 3, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Caucasians.
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DNA studies have permitted to categorize all humans on Earth in genealogical groups sharing one common ancestor at one given point in prehistory. They are called haplogroups. There are two kinds of haplogroups: the paternally inherited Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroups, and the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups. They respectively indicate the agnatic (or patrilineal) and cognatic (or matrilineal) ancestry.

Haplogroups are divided with different letters, and then with numbers. Thus, we have haplogroup I, which is then further subdivided into I1 and I2. They could be (and are) further divided to achieve more specific definitions and you can arrive at something like Q1a3a1 (Tinuna and Wayuu Amerindians).

In this blog I will try to define the “borders of whiteness”, where the white race begins and ends geographically and which populations should be classified as Caucasian.

Let’s begin by saying that religion should not be used as a guide on race. Chechens, for instance, were once Christian but are Muslim today. When they converted from Christianity to Islam, they did not change their DNA, just their beliefs. Similarly, when Indians in Mexico converted to Catholicism, they did not become genetically similar to the Poles.

Arguments have also been made that only those originally from Europe could be classified as white. The argument is false, genetically-speaking.

The same mtDNA haplogroups (Six Daughters of Eve that derived from haplogroup R as well as haplogroups X, I and W) that are present in Europe are also present in the Near East.

In Europe and the Near East, mtDNA haplogroups are quite evenly spread over the continent, and therefore cannot be associated easily with ancient ethnicities.

It is impossible to decide to classify a person’s race based on arbitrary geographic borders of a continent or a country. Two people in the same mtDNA and Y-DNA haplogroups must be part of the same race.

For that reason, Europe and the Near East must be part of the same race.

Even the distribution of haplogroups is very similar. Among just about everyone in Europe and the Near East, H is more common than U which is more common than J. (One major exception are East European Jews, about a third of whom belong to haplogroup K, which normally is highest in western Europe and British Isles, but isn’t present in such high numbers among those populations, indicating a recent, West European, female founder. Otherwise, everyone else I’ve researched shows very similar distribution patterns.)

The most common haplogroup among Europe is H, with about 40% of the population. About a quarter of Near Eastern Arabs are part of haplogroup H and the Jews are between the Arabs and the Europeans (about 40% of Russian Jews and 33% of Romanian Jews are in haplogroup H or the closely related HV).

People of different races (Pacific Islanders, for instance) belong to completely different haplogroups.

The distribution is somewhat different when it comes to Y-chromosome DNA and not as evenly spread.

Haplogroup I is in northern Europe as well as in the Balkans, R is in the middle of Europe and J stretches from western Portugal and southern Spain along all of southern Europe and into Israel and the Arab states.

It has been argued by some amateur “racialist” geneticists that J1 haplogroup should be classified as non-white because while it is very common among the Arabs, it is not common among the Europeans and somewhere in between among the Jews. (Ashkenazim are 19% J1 and 23% J2;. Sephardim are 12% J1 and 29% J2, but also 29.5% western European R1b.)

This is false logic, however, based on the idea that arbitrary geographic definitions determine genetics.

J2 Europeans (many Greeks, Italians, Spanish and Portugese, as well as southern French) are closer to J1 Arabs than to R1a Europeans, so classifying J2 with R1a as one race, and J1 as a separate race makes no sense at all. It makes even less sense to classify as separate races a J2 Italian and a J2 Lebanese just because they are on different continents.

Whatever differences may exist between J1 and J2, they pale in comparison to real racial differences with Orientals, Amerindians and sub-Saharan Africans. For people to be part of another race, at the very least they shouldn’t be part of the same haplogroup.

Also, the southern J haplogroup and the northern I haplogroup both descended from IJ and are therefore closely related, closer in fact than either is to haplogroup R.

Arabs, therefore, should not be defined as non-white due to their Y-DNA. Instead, they should be classified as a mixed (Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid) race of people due to the high influx of African and (east and south) Asian DNA.

About 20% of Arab mtDNA comes from Africa and another 18% from the East, with only 62% being white. With so much outside DNA, I would classify the Arabs as the first “border” population, a mixed race between whites and non-whites.

(The so-called Arabs in northern Africa are a different issue. They belong mostly (50-80%) to the E haplogroup, which is indigenous to the region. Being Arab seems to be more a matter of tradition than genetics for the North Africans.

Sephardim, on the other hand, are white despite theories pushed on Stormfront. A mix of mostly J2 and R1b is white whether we are talking about Spaniards or Sephardim.

Classifying Sephardim as non-white and the Spanish as white also flies in the face of genetic studies that show that 23% of Spanish mtDNA is non-white, more than among the Sephardim.)

In the North, the Asian N haplogroup is present among 58.5% of Finns, 42% of Lithuanians, 38% of Latvians and 34% of Estonians.

About 23% of Russians are also in haplogroup N. However, these 23% aren’t spread evenly among the whole Russian population.

Just as Turks from the east of their country have more Asian blood than those from the west, the same is true for Russians. Russians west of Ural, where R1a haplogroup is largest, should no doubt be classified as white in most cases. Those east of Ural, on the other hand, are mostly a mixed race Caucasoid-Mongoloid people, more mixed in some regions than others.

Likewise in Finland, those in the south of the country are Caucasian (I1 haplogroup), while those in the north are a Caucasoid-Mongoloid mix.

Again we see that drawing the genetic line along Europe’s borders makes no sense. Northern Finland and northwestern Russia are in Europe, yet the populations there are racially mixed.

So looking at the genetic map, I would classify the “borders of whiteness” from northern half of Finland stretching along northern Russia, going down along eastern Russia in Siberia and the Far East, stretching back southwest into to eastern Turkey and the Arab states. These people (northern Finns, northern Russians, eastern Russians, eastern Turks and the Arabs) are predominantly a mix of whites and others. On one side of them are whites. On the other are non-whites (sub-Saharan Africans, Central Asian Orientals, and so on).

All the people inside the map I just drew would have to be classified as white, including not just Europeans but also Anatolian Turks, Jews (Ashkenazi and Sephardi), Kurds, Dagestanis (who are technically in Europe, are are culturally Middle Eastern) and others.



1. mnuez - March 3, 2009

I just discovered your blog and I’m enjoying it quite a bit. I appreciate your doing the work to gather the data. To be sure, we likely have differing preferences at this time regarding how to deal with this data (my assumption would be that, like most HBDers, your more libertarian-minded than socialistic-minded) but politics take a distant and transitory place in my interests. Again, thank you for your labors.



2. latte island - March 4, 2009

I’ve only just started reading about population genetics, so I don’t completely understand this issue, but it seems to me that populations can’t be classified using only one marker, because it would lead to absurd results. For instance, if a few European male explorers land on a remote Polynesian island and settle there, after many generations, their male descendants on the paternal side could still be classified as European, if you only looked at their Y-chromosome, but they would in all other respects be exactly like their Polynesian relatives and neighbors. Likewise, if a few white women are captured and taken to a remote island, their female descendants on the maternal side will have identical European mtDNA, but they won’t be European, they’ll be whatever everyone else is, after a lot of generations. This is why it’s so difficult to classify races, because the other chromosomes are shared by so many groups, after thousands of years of migrating and intermarrying.

3. The Race of Sephardic Jews « Ethnic Genome Project - March 4, 2009

[…] mtDNA comes from haplogroups outside those common among whites, so they should be classified as mixed race people. But let me repeat it once more: this is done not because of the slight variations within […]

4. ethnicgenome - March 4, 2009

It’s not hard: certain haplogroups appear in one race and certain in another race.

A, B, C and D are Amerindian haplogroups. Anyone who belongs to these groups is part of that race, at least partially.

You look at both mtDNA and Y-DNA to determine the person’s race.

I will go into more detail within the haplogroups in the future, but if I start with technical stuff rather than simplified explanations, I will lose the readers.

Also keep in mind that I am not talking about alleles but about haplogroups.

5. latte island - March 4, 2009

But it’s said that 50% of Ashenazi Jews are descended from 4 non-Jewish German women. Let’s say a lot of present-day Ashkenazim can trace their mtDNA back to the 4 women…this certainly doesn’t make them German or European in the exact same sense as European-descended non-Jews. The reason many Ashkenazim, myself included, look Jewish is that mtDNA is very, very far from the whole story. One certainly can choose to classify people according to mtDNA or the Y chromosome, but it’s only a charming romantic concept a la Bryan Sykes. What makes someone German, Jewish, European or whatever is the rest of the DNA, which may or may not be like the haplogroup, depending on how isolated the population is. BTW, I got my example of the Polynesians and the white explorers from Sykes, who discovered that one third of the men he studied on Raratonga had a European Y chromosome, even though he was surprised, because they all looked Polynesian, and 100% of the men he studied had Polynesian mtDNA. I suppose the men with European Y-chromosomes could be classified as mixed race, but they weren’t, because this result came out of the blue, they didn’t look any different from the others. I can imagine a scenario where some very isolated population that was visited first by European male explorers, and at another time by, let’s say, European women (this is hypothetical). After many generations, they all look like Polynesians. If a woman with European mtDNA has children with a man with a European Y-chromosome, they are white, but only to someone who thinks haplogroups define race. To everyone else, they’re Polynesian.

6. latte island - March 4, 2009

I see the haplogroup concept can map populations based on percentages of which groups are found in a location, but it’s less accurate for classifying individuals.

7. ethnicgenome - March 4, 2009

“The reason many Ashkenazim, myself included, look Jewish is that mtDNA is very, very far from the whole story.”

Why do you think Jews can look Jewish, but in different places there are different Jewish looks?

You see a German and a Russian Ashkenazi. Can you see a difference? Probably. Can you see a difference from an ethnic German to a German Ashkenazi? Yes.

The reason that Jews look Jewish is the original genes they brought into Europe. The reason they also look like their country of origin is their acquisition of local genes.

8. European Genetic Admixtures: Y-DNA « Ethnic Genome Project - March 5, 2009

[…] haplogroup, haplogroups, mtdna, race, y-dna trackback This post is a continuation of “Mapping out the borders of whiteness“. If you haven’t read it, you probably should to understand this more clearly […]

9. Ron Pavellas - March 9, 2009

One’s patrilineal YDNA genetic history and matrilineal mtDNA genetic history are a very small part of one’s genetic history. Think of your mother’s father and all his ancestors, and of your father’s mother and all her ancestors. None of these is included in the findings regarding the YDNA and mtDNA studies for a given person. So, I believe whatever points you are trying to make are quite diluted by these unknowns. Am I wrong?

10. ethnicgenome - March 9, 2009

On an individual basis, you are definitely right. Your father’s mother or your mother’s father will not appear, and therefore your profile will not be complete. There may be advances in technology, but so far as I know, that’s the case right now.

For a nation, we have too big a sample. If 20% of a given ethnic group are in haplogroup K, my guess would be that roughly roughly 20% of the genes of all the people in that ethnic group are K.

This is just a guess of course, but I am fairly certain about it considering how much mixing there has been among people of the same nation over thousands of years.

The other reason I think so is that people of the same nation look mostly somewhat similar. Not identical of course, but usually similar enough that they can say things like, “this guy looks Swedish and this guy looks Italian.”

Again people may not necessarily look like their their own ethnicity (an Italian may have a Swedish great grandfather whom he never met, but whom he resembles), but there’s a particular “look” to most ethnicities. The closer they are, the harder it is to tell. Thus the Poles and the Russians may be difficult to tell apart sometimes (except usually by the Russians and the Poles themselves), but much easier to tell Poles from Greeks (again not always, but usually).

The fact that there’s an “Irish look” or a “Dutch look” leads me to believe that most people within a particular ethnicity same a similar amount of each haplogroup. Otherwise, they would look much more different.

There are of course countries where people seem to have different amounts of their haplogroups. Italy, Israel, Turkey, Russia, Finland would be a few examples. But now you can see a difference between people.

Even though both Sephardic and Askhenazi Jews descended from the same haplogroups (mtDNA and Y-DNA), they have a different mix and therefore look different.

11. expat21 - March 11, 2009

I hope at some point you might be able to write a post on the Berbers of Morocco and peoples of Morocco. This is the area I’m most interested in.

12. Ponto Hardbottle - March 27, 2009

I find the idea that R1b, R1a and I being so European, so White, very stupid. All haplogroups in Europe have their genesis in Southwest Asia, somewhere between the Levant and Iran. Haplogroup I is rather similar to J and originated in the same place. The R group is Asian, from somewhere near Iran and Turkistan. Studies by Hammer show R1* to be 18,500 years old. R1b entered Europe after the LGM, had nothing to do with any ancient cave painters or Cro Magnons. R1a is younger. I haplogroup is Middle Eastern in origin but entered Europe before the LGM.
Separating Europe from the Near East genetically is like telling a man one of his testicles should be removed as it is a foreign body.
My opinion is that those Mediterranean and Middle Eastern haplogroups have been in Europe from the begining, the Mediterranean is a highway connecting the inhabitants to each other since prehistory.
In the recent history of Europe, many countries or nations had colonies in Asia or Africa or Oceania: Germany, Belgium, France, Russia (mostly in Asia), USA, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Netherlands, Britain, Denmark (Inuit)…it is a long list covering north and south Europe. All those extra European activities brought non Caucasoid admixture to Europe. Sweden or Swedish people had extensive contacts with the Moors, their slave trade and Asia through the Byzantine empire.

Also I think Jews are basically Mediterranean Europeans that have undergone founder effects, genetic bottlenecks, drift which has amplified certain haplogroups in Jews like J1, J2, G, and E1b1. Most of the stuff about the contact of Jews with Hebrews, Israelites and myths.

13. European Genetic Diversity « Ethnic Genome Project - April 13, 2009

[…] The last two things about the Finns and the Italians coincide with my theories in Mapping out the borders of whiteness. […]

14. navasisback - May 11, 2009

Don´t put Spain and Portugal together: there is no such ting as “Iberia”. Portugal has much more subsaharan DNA tha Spain, result of a different history. And the supposed 23% non euro in Spain is of course mostly a product of RECENT immigration.

15. piero - June 10, 2009

It is of course absolutely true Europe and the Near East must be part of the same race as some genetic distances between Europeans and Middle-eastern people are sometimes less important than between Europeans and Europeans …. For example the following fst for HGDP data based on thousands of Snps

(HGDP: FST estimates using 23,000 SNPs not in LD with MAF > 5%)

French-Palestinians 0.0144
Tuscan-Bedouins 0.0136
Tuscan-Druzes 0.0108
Tuscan-Palestinians 0.0093


Even if generally speaking, any pairwise comparison over 0.0060 Fst is pretty impressive for Europe in many case we have numbers > 0.0100 and greater than the genetic distances mentionned above .

(most of data from “Genetic Structure of Europeans: A View from the North–East”, Nelis, 2009) based on thousands of Snps :

South-Italy-Finland (Kuusamo) 0.0230
Northern Italy-Finland (Kuusamo) 0.0200
Spain-Finland-(Kuusamo) 0.0170
South-Italy-Finland (Helsinki) 0.0160
South-Italy-Latvia 0.0150
Sardinia-Western Rhine region, Germany 0.0144
South-Italy-Lithuania 0.0140
Sardinia-North-Americans 0.0134
Sardinia-Augsburg, Germany 0.0132
South-Italy-Estonia 0.0130
Northern Italy-Finland (Helsinki) 0.0130
Sardinia-South Tyrol, Italy 0.0126
South-Italy-Russia 0.0120
Northern Italy-Latvia 0.0120
Northern Italy-Lithuania 0.0110
Spain-Finland (Helsinki) 0.0110
South-Italy-Poland 0.0100
Northern Italy-Estonia 0.0100
Spain-Latvia 0.0100
Tuscan-Orcadian (Scotland) : 0.0094
Tuscan-North Russian : 0.0095

I dont have data for mediterranean Berbers but we should peobably get the same results as for Palestianians.


16. piero - June 10, 2009

…and we could mention genetic distances between Europe and Pakistan (Pathan) who are quite close to europeans as well :

Tuscan-Pathan : 0.0169 (twice as great as the distance between Tuscans and Palestinians but still less than between a South-Italian and a Finn !)
French-Pathan : 0.0185
Orcadian (Scotland)-Pathan :0.0215

For comparisons, genetic distances Fst between Caucasians (Europeans/Mediterranean) and sub-saharan Africans or East-Asians are huge :

Europeans – Africans (Yoruba) 0.1530
Europeans – Chinese 0.1100
Africans (Yoruba) – Chinese 0.1900 !


17. Katie - August 2, 2009

funniest thing ive read in years haplogroups do not signfy ancestry or racial purity,I’m mixed race and have only european y,mtdna and autosomal results.

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