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LaKisha Tawanda David

Assistant Professor

Research Description

My research incorporates biological and sociocultural anthropology as I delve into the biological and social aspects of genetic genealogy among persons with recent ancestors from Africa. I examine family and ethnic identity development among African Americans who use genetic genealogy to identify and interact with their genetic relatives residing in Africa. Similarly, I examine African perspectives on their involvement with their genetic genealogical connections with descendants of ancestors taken away from Africa during the generations of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In support of both the African and African diaspora perspectives, I examine the use of computational techniques to infer genetic genealogy networks spanning upwards of 9 generations. This method provides a powerful link, binding Africans and members of the historic African diaspora in a continuum of shared family, community, and population history. At the heart of my research is a profound quest to unravel the genetic, historical, and emotional narratives interwoven through time and our genomes. It is a quest for identity and belonging with genetics as supporting evidence of a shared family past.


Courses Taught

Fall ANTH 499 CRN: 71917 Genetic Ancestry Similar & Rel (Genetic Ancestry, Similarity, and Relatedness)


Additional Campus Affiliations

Center for African Studies


Recent Publications

David, L. K. T. (2024). Supporting the use of genetic genealogy in restoring family narratives following the transatlantic slave trade. American Anthropologist, 126(1), 153-157.

David, L. T. (2023). Addressing the feasibility of people of African descent finding living African relatives using direct-to-consumer genetic testing. American Journal of Biological Anthropology, 181(2), 163-165.

David, L. T. (2016). Africans Using Autosomal DNA Testing to Find Distant Family Members. In D. E. Newton (Ed.), DNA Technology: A Reference Handbook (2 ed.). (Contemporary World Issues). ABC-CLIO.

View all publications on Illinois Experts