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Race vs. Ethnicity in DNA March 9, 2009

Posted by ethnicgenome in Genetics (General).
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What is the difference between a race and an ethnicity?

The differences between races are the haplogroups themselves.

Races belong to different haplogroups 85-95% of the time, with remaining being the inevitable outside gene flow. (See this article on why being in a different haplogroup does not mean that you are genetically different from most people in your ethnicity.)

But ethnicities differ from one another based on further, much more recent splits of the same haplogroup.

Haplogroup J is common in Europe and the Near East. This is true for both mtDNA and Y-DNA, though the letter J assigned here is just a coincidence and not based on any similarity of J in mtDNA to J in Y-DNA.

In mtDNA, J1 is spread around Europe, while J2 is mostly concentrated around the Mediterranean. In Y-DNA, J1 is largely an Arab haplogroup and J2 is also concentrated around the Mediterranean, just like J2 mtDNA.

Looking at it deeper, the vast majority of the British people who belong to J haplogroup (mtDNA) are J1 and not J2.

Digging deeper, J16172 and J18192 are relatively common among the Scots, but almost never among the Anglo-Saxons and other continental Europeans (though it is present in smaller numbers in Scandinavia).

Any ethnicity that is overwhelmingly part of J and/or other Caucasian haplogroups, would have to be classified as part of the white race.

The next level would split the race into subgroups (Nordic, Mediterranean, and so on).

As we look deeper, sometimes several levels deeper, we begin to reach ethnicities. More and more similarities will get you closer to being related: distant relatives (third cousins), close relatives (first cousins) and nuclear family (siblings).

The idea that there are no races would have to therefore logically lead one to conclude that there are no families.

If race is a social construct, then so too must be the family.

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Comments»

1. Ponto Hardbottle - March 27, 2009

British men who are J haplogroup are mostly J1, M267 also.

A hangover from the Phoenicians perhaps? Those Phoenicians going to Cornwall and other British places along the Irish Sea looking for tin is not a myth?

2. Rand - March 28, 2009

I’m curious. What are the territorial boundaries of the Nordic subgroup? Is it just Scandinavia? Or can many people from the British Isles and Central Europe also be classified as Nordic? I ask this question because there are so many conflicting views on this.


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