American Ancestry: A Popular and Political History, After 1865
This course explores the many ways in which ancestry has mattered in U.S. politics and society since 1865. It looks at ideas about origins, lineage, and genealogy in American history, and how it has ... Lesen Sie weiter
This course explores the many ways in which ancestry has mattered in U.S. politics and society since 1865. It looks at ideas about origins, lineage, and genealogy in American history, and how it has intersected with class, gender, ethnicity, and race.
Questions of lineage and descent have been central to U.S. history. It has formed the basis for genealogy and family history – an international industry and one of the most popular pursuits of our time – but it has also informed ideas about, for example, segregation, immigration, and racial hygiene. Considering that the U.S. is founded on an ideal of egalitarianism, echoed in the Constitution and the American Dream, it might seem paradoxical that the matter of who your parents or (great-)grandparents were has received such prominence in the American Republic.
This course tackles this paradox, investigating the popular and political impact of ancestry in the United States.
Building on new research in the humanities and social sciences, the course deals with a wide range of historical and contemporary topics related to American ancestry. It looks at Anglo- Americans and white privilege in late-19th century New England; the consequential impact of the Mormon Church for the history of genealogy; the role of multinational corporations, such as Ancestry.com, and the commodification of identity; and the growth of ancestry-as-entertainment in American popular culture. It looks at African American genealogy and Indigenous heritage, and it studies how the pursuit of identity and origins have been affected by technological innovations and the development of genetic (DNA) genealogy.