The Genealogical Science: The Search For Jewish Origins And The Politics Of Epistemology by Nadia Abu El-Haj

The Genealogical Science: The Search For Jewish Origins And The Politics Of Epistemology

byNadia Abu El-Haj

Paperback | May 8, 2014

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The Genealogical Science analyzes the scientific work and social implications of the flourishing field of genetic history. A biological discipline that relies on genetic data in order to reconstruct the geographic origins of contemporary populations—their histories of migration and genealogical connections to other present-day groups—this historical science is garnering ever more credibility and social reach, in large part due to a growing industry in ancestry testing. 
In this book, Nadia Abu El-Haj examines genetic history’s working assumptions about culture and nature, identity and biology, and the individual and the collective. Through the example of the study of Jewish origins, she explores novel cultural and political practices that are emerging as genetic history’s claims and “facts” circulate in the public domain and illustrates how this historical science is intrinsically entangled with cultural imaginations and political commitments.  Chronicling late-nineteenth- to mid-twentieth-century understandings of race, nature, and culture, she identifies continuities and shifts in scientific claims, institutional contexts, and political worlds in order to show how the meanings of biological difference have changed over time.  In so doing she gives an account of how and why it is that genetic history is so socially felicitous today and elucidates the range of understandings of the self, individual and collective, this scientific field is making possible. More specifically, through her focus on the history of projects of Jewish self-fashioning that have taken place on the terrain of the biological sciences, The Genealogical Science analyzes genetic history as the latest iteration of a cultural and political practice now over a century old. 

About The Author

Nadia Abu El-Haj is professor of anthropology at Barnard College of Columbia University. She is the author of Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society, also published by the University of Chicago Press. 

Details & Specs

Title:The Genealogical Science: The Search For Jewish Origins And The Politics Of EpistemologyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:328 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.6 inPublished:May 8, 2014Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022615470X

ISBN - 13:9780226154701

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Editorial Reviews

“The Genealogical Science is a wonderful account of how old-fashioned race science has come to be re-defined by resort to the most recent developments in genetics. But this book is not simply another story of the ideological uses to which science may be put. Nadia Abu El-Haj has provided the reader with a very detailed analysis of the historical entanglement between science and politics. Her study should be required reading for anyone interested in the sociology of science—and also for those dealing with Middle Eastern nationalisms. This is a work of outstanding value for scholarship.”