Evaluating Population Origins and Interpretations of Identity: a Case Study of the Lemba of South Africa
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Dr. Bethany Turner-Livermore
Dr. Steven Black
Dr. Isabel Mendizabal
Dr. Soojin Yi
This study compares genetics and linguistics of the Lemba, a population living primarily in South Africa, as a means to identify any possible correlation between these two sources, to better understand how identity is impacted by ancestry testing, and to examine the Lemba’s claim to Jewish ancestry with this evidence. The methods compare allele frequency data from several populations that were expected, based on Spurdle and Jenkins (1996), Casanova et al (1985), Ritte et al. (1993), Santachiara Benerecetti et al (1993), and Soodyall (2013), to be geographically proximate to and thereby more closely related the Lemban people. Results were clustered by language community to detect possible correlations. The different frequencies considered yielded dissimilar relationships between genetic and linguistic clusters, thus supporting the independence of mechanisms of linguistic and genetic change. These results contribute to the discussion of how identity can be validated or undermined by demonstrating three sources, geographic, linguistic, and genetic, by which to derive an identity and how these can produce contradictory answers.
Engel, Jessica R., "Evaluating Population Origins and Interpretations of Identity: a Case Study of the Lemba of South Africa." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2014.