10 June 2017

Genetic Geographies: The Trouble with Ancestry

Searching for genealogy books on Amazon sorted by popularity up popped as #1 this academic book, published by the University of Minnesota Press, Genetic Geographies: The Trouble with Ancestry by Catherine Nash.

Nash is Professor of Human Geography at Queen Mary College, University of London. She describes herself as "a feminist cultural geographer with research interests in geographies of identity, relatedness and belonging. I am particularly interested in bringing together a cultural geographical perspective and a focus on kinship which includes attention to genealogical knowledges and imaginations and practices of making relations."

A stimulus for the book was the People of the British Isles Project, and also the Geno 2.0 test of National Geographic.

The start of the Acknowledgements at the front of the book reads "At the heart of this book is a critique of the idea that those to whom we are closest in terms of ancestry naturally matter most. It is an argument about the dangers of figuring genetic similarity through shared ancestry as the basis for senses of affinity, care, and commonality. In the pages that follow, I explore how that idea runs through what is widely taken to be either a simply fascinating or, more particularly, progressive exploration of ancestry, origins, and relatedness through the scientific study of geographical patterns of human genetic variation and their use in genetic genealogy."

In brief the book "pursues their (genetics) troubling implications for our perception of sexual and national, as well as racial, difference."

I've not read the book. I couldn't find any reviews online. Analysis of a section found it is written at well above college level. According to WorldCat there are copies at some Canadian university libraries, including the University of Ottawa, where it will likely be found on the shelves.


Celtictwigs said...

Thanks for bringing this work to our attention. It sounds like it could be an interesting read if one did not need to work at slogging through obtuse language structures . . . sez this reader with more than one post grad degree.

Judy Lynn in Ontario said...

Be careful: well above college-level reading difficulty today could mean well above grade 6 reading difficulty and not much more. Reading levels of difficulty in Canada will continue to change and devolve. Standards for written expression will continue to weaken in response to the pressures of technology where shortest possible expressions using short forms and misspellings continue to undermine previous standards for written English. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I am told, but rather a response to the rapid pace of the world we now inhabit. People no longer have the time or the attention span needed to write whole, correctly spelled words,or complete sentences with punctuation of even the most basic kind. The book described may not require a slog "through obtuse [sic] language structures", but rather may simply require a reader with an attention span longer than that of a gnat.

Patti said...

Sounds like a bunch of garbage to me. Our GENETIC families ARE our families. Period.

Gail B said...

posting late in the day, as I've been busy. Since adoption runs through both my husband's and my family for generations, I must disagree that "our genetic families are our families." I realize the comment is meant to be straightforward, and it avoids academic gobbledegook speech, but 'Families' are made through care, nurture, love, as much as genetics.