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English ancestors: the moral possibilities of popular genealogy

Cannell, Fenella (2011) English ancestors: the moral possibilities of popular genealogy. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 17 (3). pp. 462-480. ISSN 1359-0987

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Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2011.01702.x


This article considers the meanings of ordinary genealogy for English practitioners in East Anglia, and in the popular BBC television series Who do you think you are? It argues against the view, most forcibly expressed by Segalen, that genealogy is a 'narcissistic' pursuit which compensates for individual or collective deracination in modernity. Contra Schneider, it draws attention to family history as a form of care for the dead, and a moral terrain on which the English living and dead are mutually constituted as relatives. This permits a reconsideration of the analysis of 'self' in the anthropology of kinship, and its relation to the categories of religion and secularity.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 John Wiley & Sons
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2011 13:59
Last Modified: 20 May 2024 20:24

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