Based on our genetic ancestry test results, we discovered we have over 3,000 DNA  relatives combined. We contacted all our new DNA relatives and invited them to  participate in the Belongingness project, exploring what identity is and how we are all  connected to one another.  

After contacting our relatives, we each booked and had 10 meetings with 10 different  DNA relatives of all ages and from all parts of the world in March 2021. Through these  online meetings and conversations that lasted for roughly an hour each, we looked to  learn more about our connection, why participants took the genetic test, what they were  looking for, and whether they had found what they were after. Together we talked  through the complexity of our interconnections that define part of our identities and  discovered new meanings to old ideas.

We used landmark points to represent the faces. The names of the participants and our DNA relatives are abbreviated for the purpose of anonymity. Everyone involved consented to the publication of these stories, images and  audio recordings.  

Sandra :: C and L from USA, living in USA

The meeting took place with V, C and L. V is the father of C and L. The three of them did an ancestry genetic test but in different companies. V and C in one company and L in another company.

I share with V and C, one segment on chromosome 17, exactly the same segment with both. Based on this, it is inferred that V and I are 4th cousins, and also C and I are supposed to be 4th cousins, even though V and C are father and daughter. The reason why is that the inference is based on the length of the segment we share.

We talk about our family history; V knows some information about his family mainly based on memories and I also know very little about my own family history. Just one of my grandparents was present in my life, my mother’s mother. She was a creative and caring woman originally from Hidalgo state in Mexico.

V asked me if I would recognize the name of Pedro María Anaya in my family history and my answer was “no”.
Pedro María Anaya was general of the Mexican army and also, he was president of Mexico during a very short period of time in 1847-1848. He was born in the state of Hidalgo and his parents were from Spain.

This information was completely new for me. We cannot assure that our connection is through Pedro María Anaya but coincidentally according to the common ancestor we have, it could be him.

After talking about our family history, V had to go but before disconnecting from zoom he said “welcome to the family”. C, L and I talk about why they did the test, what were they looking for, what they found out. At the end, we recognize that the topic has different levels of complexity: biology, science, data mining, business and so on. On a more personal level, we share our common interests in science but also our individual interests, L plays tambours, C is into Nutrition and my love for art and culture. Now we do not only share a DNA connection but also, we share interests, we share moments… we belong. Repeating C and L words “belonging is a commonality that brings us together”.