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'Putting the flesh on the bones' : evidencing and imagining genealogical connections with family historians in Northumberland, County Durham, and Tyne and Wear

This thesis is concerned with the exploration of genealogical connections by family historians in Northumberland, County Durham, and Tyne and Wear, and what this tells us about contemporary reckonings of kinship and relatedness. After situating my research within the wider context of kinship studies in anthropology I demonstrate that the digital and genetic technologies play a pivotal role in the ways that genealogical connections are both evidenced and imagined. Ethnographic engagement with online historic census records and commercial genetic ancestry tracing products reveals the integration of hard fact on the one hand and narrative elaboration on the other as part of family history research. It is then shown that in order to facilitate and add depth to their genealogical explorations family historians rely heavily upon personal reminiscences that are entwined within folk idioms of inheritance. Key to this is the convergence of biological and social explanations of connectedness that manifest as part of the analysis of surnames and in the application and use of selected genetic kin terms. It is demonstrated that the establishment and maintenance of contemporary social interaction constitutes a key feature of genealogical research. Moreover, by focusing on the transmission of genealogical knowledge it is also shown that imaginings of the future remain significant to the thoughts and actions of the contemporary family historian. The fundamental findings of this thesis thus demonstrate that through the active evidencing and imagining of genealogical connections family historians are developing novel ways of understanding how it is that they are connected to one another, the past, and the future.
Date January 2014
CreatorsHurst, Martyn Jeffrey
PublisherDurham University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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