Saturday, 4 July 2015

Genetic Genealogy and Bioconvergence

The title "The Genome Imaginary: Genealogical Heritage and the Shaping of Bioconvergent Identities" should have been a warning.
A second clue this would not be an easy read came in the footnote on the first page "Genealogy has its own methodology, its own epistemology, and, indeed, its own ontology. However, these elements are not within the scope of this article."
Then there's the article's first sentence "Genealogy is a key, yet everyday and mundane practice, used to create as well as reveal kinship." Is that mundane in the first sense "Lacking interest or excitement; dull" or the second "Of this earthly world rather than a heavenly or spiritual one?" LDS members would question the applicability of the second and every genealogist the first.

The author is Anne-Marie Kramer, a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nottingham whose "current research explores the meaning and consequences of the current boom in genealogy in the UK for the individuals undertaking it, their families, and British society more broadly."

The article's writing is opaque to me. Here's a summary taken from the end of the introduction:
Concentrating particularly on testing for ancestry, first, it critiques the epistemological claims of genetic genealogy: What does genetic genealogy claim to be able to know? On what basis is such knowledge described as legitimate and authoritative? And how do both of these claims relate to the entwinement or convergence of bodies, technology, and media? Second, it considers to what uses genetic genealogy is put. Here the article analyzes how genetic genealogy produces bioconvergent identities and biosocialities that claim to efface difference and yet render meaningful and reproduce gender and ethnic categories as embodied difference. Third, and last, the article traces how genetic genealogy comes to have meaning and becomes “real” by exploring the revelatory, affective, and performative aspects of genetic genealogy as mediated spectacle.
The article is written for Kramer`s peers using academic shorthand and "feminist semiotic analysis" rather than for the "mundane" genealogist. For us the terminology serves only to obscure the findings. That's unfortunate as many genealogists are interested in understanding the social context of the passion for family history. I hope Kramer will find her way out of the ivory tower and make her forthcoming book "Kinship and Genealogy" more comprehensible than this article.

1 comment:

Mike More said...

Can Google translate this into English? :-)