Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Wednesday, 19 January 2011 00:00

Genes and Culture

Human genes should not be used to cause conflict. Rather, they should be used as a medium to spread culture and love, making this world a better place.

Before I had gone deeply into the study of genes, my understanding was only limited to genes being either good or bad, far or close, simple or complex, illness or healthy and so on. It was very simple dualism.

Then I discovered that the makeup of a gene is not only hereditary and mutation doesn’t necessarily occur inside an embryo; many genes would actually have de Novo change in the current generation. This change might be caused by the environment or by any other number of external factors. So it is possible for a man’s Y chromosome to be different to that of his father’s, caused by a defected de Novo gene. Smoking cause genes to be cancerous, however, they are different to the cancerous genes found in a non-smoker. I often think of the thousands and millions of genes inside a human body as the stars in the sky, flickering differently in silence every passing second.

Genes have also evolved with time and we can find traces of other animal’s primitive genes in human genes. The complexity of genes in the human body can be compared to the thought process inside the Cerebral Cortex of a human brain, which is even more complex than a computer. A few simple genes can determine an animal to be male or female, just like switching on a remote control. However, to determine a human to be male or female, hormones, sexual organs and mix and match of different genes are needed. Human genes are not only recording the history of evolution, they also show the greatness of humanity, like praising the wonderful artwork made by the Creator.

I used the genes of the Taiwanese people as the material for my research. We can find racial integration of the Taiwanese people from the diversity of different genes. The researchers before me discovered that the Taiwanese Aboriginals are related to one of the Pacific Austronesian groups. Not only has the blood of the Pacific Austronesian mixed into the gene pool of the Taiwanese people, the Dutch blood of the Caucasian race has also appeared briefly in it. The integration of genes would normally cause similarities on the appearance of people from different races, however, after many generations we cannot tell the difference. This is like a certain culture has been in a particular race for a long time, it is impossible to find how this culture was put into the race without an extensive research on the culture’s origin. For a chromosome to have different genes integrated into it, vaguely sharing the common features of different races, is just like one big family caring for one another.

Human genes should not be used as political languages or causing conflict. Rather, they should be used to deliver culture and messages of love, embracing the world into a beautiful place as we have never seen before.

Translated from Chinese by Jason Chen, painting by Bendu

Read the original version in Chinese


Professor Tsang Cheng-Hwa (Institute of History and Philology at the Academia Sinica) discusses the need for researchers to work across disciplines on an international scale towards a more comprehensive understanding of the Pacific and Taiwan's current and future role there.

Professor Tung Yuan-Chao discusses the problems of anthropology in the contemporary world, given the questionable moral origins of this academic field. She attempts to define a new framework in which Taiwan can look at its Pacific neighbours without echoes of Western imperialism affecting their gaze. As well as discussing how body habits can be more important to identity than ancestry.

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