The Ancestor in the Machine
Workaround: In current version of Panels 3.8, it seems this body field needs to be populated in order for title above to appear. This note is hidden by custom CSS style. Jack Latimer.
The contemporary and burgeoning interest in genealogy and family history research in Britain has been identified as a ‘new national obsession’. Its popularity is apparent in numerous television and radio programmes devoted to both ‘ordinary’ and ‘celebrity’ family trees, as well as a plethora of internet sites, computer software, databases, magazines, self-help manuals etcetera, and all these alongside masses of information and queries uploaded and
disseminated by individuals, groups and networks. ‘Family treeing’, to use an idiom from the north of England, is a social practice through which a good number of broader contemporary preoccupations are revealed. As a practice, it straddles social class, confined to neither the middle nor the working classes but it shows a burgeoning and flourishing interest in the workings of social class and in a history that ‘catches up’ place, past and person. In the north of England, It is inflected by a post-industrial landscape and recent experiences of social and economic upheaval with attendant threats to working-class life and dignity, but is as much about continuity as rupture. It reveals a preoccupation with serendipity, fate and chance which turn on the ethereal and mystical. It is also suggestive of an ‘imperative to connect’ forging kin connections to both ancestors and newly-found living relatives. This paper draws on recent fieldwork in the north of England and attempts to look ethnographically at some of the practices, materials and meanings of family history research.
Ethnography, family history, genealogy, kinship, social class20091171