Raquel Fleskes

Wolf Humanities Center Associate Scholar

20192020 Forum on Kinship

Raquel Fleskes

Ph.D. Candidate, Biological Anthropology

Raquel Fleskes is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in molecular genetics. From 2017-2018, she was a visiting researcher at the University of Tennessee’s ancient DNA laboratory, conducting her dissertation research on the genomic diversity of early colonial populations in eastern North America. Her work has taken her to Charleston, South Carolina, where she is conducting community-based DNA research on 36 African-descended remains. A Maryland local, Raquel is also working on understanding kinship and ancestry of 17th century Maryland and Delaware populations by analyzing the genomic diversity of archaeological individuals and descendent communities. She has received funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society to support her research. Raquel is also an advocate for education and outreach initiatives, conducting classroom visits and training undergraduates from outside institutions at the Lab of Molecular Anthropology at Penn. 

Genetic Perspectives on Kinship & Colonization

My dissertation investigates biological kinship in 17th and 18th-century colonial populations in eastern North America, exploring its influence on historical settlement patterns, effect on structuring present-day genomic variation, and remembrance in contemporary genealogical memory. I accomplish this by extracting DNA preserved in archaeological skeletal material and analyzing genomic diversity of living persons whom trace biological kinship from the colonial past to the present. With these data, I examine how descendent communities understand kinship in the context of colonial history and genealogical knowledge. This research expands our understanding of kinship in early colonial America and contemporary genealogical memory, as well as its impact on the evolution of genomic diversity in colonization contexts.