Ancestors and Relatives: Genealogy, Identity, and Community

Paperback | August 23, 2013

byEviatar Zerubavel

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Genealogy has long been one of humanity's greatest obsessions. But with the rise of genetics, and increasing media attention to it through programs like Who Do You Think You Are? and Faces of America, we are now told that genetic markers can definitively tell us who we are and where we camefrom.The problem, writes Eviatar Zerubavel, is that biology does not provide us with the full picture. After all, he asks, why do we consider Barack Obama black even though his mother was white? Why did the Nazis believe that unions of Germans and Jews would produce Jews rather than Germans? In thisprovocative book, he offers a fresh understanding of relatedness, showing that its social logic sometimes overrides the biological reality it supposedly reflects. In fact, rather than just biological facts, social traditions of remembering and classifying shape the way we trace our ancestors,identify our relatives, and delineate families, ethnic groups, nations, and species. Furthermore, genealogies are more than mere records of history. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, Zerubavel introduces such concepts as braiding, clipping, pasting, lumping, splitting, stretching, and pruning toshed light on how we manipulate genealogies to accommodate personal and collective agendas of inclusion and exclusion. Rather than simply find out who our ancestors were and identify our relatives, we actually construct the genealogical narratives that make them our ancestors and relatives.An eye-opening re-examination of our very notion of relatedness, Ancestors and Relatives offers a new way of understanding family, ethnicity, nationhood, race, and humanity.

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Genealogy has long been one of humanity's greatest obsessions. But with the rise of genetics, and increasing media attention to it through programs like Who Do You Think You Are? and Faces of America, we are now told that genetic markers can definitively tell us who we are and where we camefrom.The problem, writes Eviatar Zerubavel, is...

Eviatar Zerubavel is the Board of Governors Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University. He is the author of numerous books, most recently The Elephant in the Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life and Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:August 23, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199336040

ISBN - 13:9780199336043

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Table of Contents

List of FiguresPrefaceThe Genealogical ImaginationAncestry and DescentCo-DescentNature and CultureThe Politics of DescentThe Genealogy of the FutureThe Future of GenealogyBibliography

Editorial Reviews

"Kinship is a perennial staple-necessary but ordinarily dry as dust-of anthropology, sociology, and demography. In Ancestors and Relatives, Eviatar Zerubavel makes the topic new, bringing to it an encyclopedic knowledge and a powerful sociological imagination that brings to life the deeplysocial and cultural ways in which we talk about, imagine, and understand our ancestors and relations. Never has kinship been more interesting and never has it been as much fun." --Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University