Evolutionary Perspectives on African North American Genetic Diversity: Origins and Prospects for Future Investigations
African-descended peoples of the Americas represent an amalgamation of West, Central, and Southeast African regional and ethnic groups with modest gene flow from specific non-African populations. Despite 16+ generations of residence in the Americas, there is a deficit of evolutionary knowledge about these populations. Focusing on Legacy African American, the African North American descendants of survivors of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, we report on emic evolutionary perspectives of their self-identity gleaned from our interviews of 600 individuals collected over two years. Gullah-Geechee peoples of Carolina Coastal regions are a model case study due to their historical antiquity, substantial African retentions, relative geospatial isolation, and proposed progenitor status to other Legacy African American microethnic groups. We identify salient research questions for future studies that will begin to bridge the evolutionary gaps in our knowledge of these diverse peoples and the historical evidence for specific evolutionary processes.
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