Ancestors and Relatives Genealogy, Identity, and Community

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-11-09
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Genealogy has long been an obsession. From the Sons of Confederate Veterans to Ancestry.com, today's family-tree researchers crowd libraries and eagerly exchange tips on Internet message boards. But with the dramatic rise of genetics, and increasing media attention through programs like Henry Louis Gates Jr.'sFaces of America, the public is now being told that genetic markers can definitively tell each of us where we came from. The problem, writes sociologist Eviatar Zerubavel, is that they don't. Why, he asks, do we consider Barack Obama a black man, even though he has a white mother? Why did the Nazis believe that unions of Germans and Jews would produce Jews rather than Germans? Do we find any meaning in the fact that chimpanzees are genetically closer to humans than to gorillas? In this provocative book, Zerubavel presents a fresh new understanding of relatedness. Rather than a biological fact, traditions of remembering and classifying shape the way we trace our ancestors, identify our relatives, and delineate the families, ethnic groups, nations, and species to which we supposedly belong. Drawing on a wide range of cultural and historical evidence, he introduces the concepts of braiding, clipping, pasting, and stretching to shed light on how we expand and collapse genealogies to accommodate personal and collective agendas of inclusion and exclusion. Rather than simply find out who our ancestors were, we actually construct the narratives that make them our kin. There's an old saying that you can choose your friends, but not your family. InAncestors and Relatives, Eviatar Zerubavel argues that we do indeed choose our families, in this engaging new look at one of the most universal human concerns.

Author Biography

Eviatar Zerubavel is Board of Governors Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University. He is the author of The Elephant in the Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life, The Fine Line: Making Distinctions in Everyday Life, The Seven-Day Circle: The History and Meaning of the Week, Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology, and Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
The Genealogical Imaginationp. 3
Ancestry and Descentp. 15
Lineagep. 16
Pedigreep. 23
Originsp. 26
Co-Descentp. 31
Kinshipp. 31
Community and Identityp. 46
Nature and Culturep. 53
Bloodp. 53
Nature or Culture?p. 59
The Rules of Genealogical Lineationp. 65
The Rules of Genealogical Delineationp. 71
The Politics of Descentp. 77
Stretchingp. 78
Cutting and Pastingp. 80
Clippingp. 82
Braidingp. 84
Lumpingp. 86
Marginalizingp. 95
Splittingp. 97
Pruningp. 101
The Genealogy of the Futurep. 105
Genealogical Engineeringp. 105
Integrationp. 106
Segregationp. 109
Extinctionp. 113
The Future of Genealogyp. 115
Notesp. 133
Bibliographyp. 183
Author Indexp. 213
Subject Indexp. 221
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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