Alternate RootsEthnicity, Race, and Identity in Genealogy Media

Alternate RootsEthnicity, Race, and Identity in Genealogy Media

Christine Scodari

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781496817785

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi


For over two decades, the media have chronicled escalating participation in family history prompted by, among other things, the aging of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, the growing availability of digital genealogy sites and archives, and a burgeoning interest in racial and ethnic history and culture of the sort inspired by the airing of the historical drama miniseries Roots forty years ago. Alternate Roots is the first book to critically address a wide array of media-related institutions, texts, technologies, and practices of family history readily encountered in the new millennium, including genealogy-themed television series, books, documentaries, websites, family photos and civil records, social media interactions, genealogical institutions, “roots” tourism, and genetic ancestry testing services capitalizing on the 2003 mapping of the human genome. These objects of inquiry present unique and pressing issues for critical investigation in terms of economic and privacy concerns as well as ethnicity, race, and hybrid identities. Judiciously interweaving her own genealogical journey involving ethnic, racial, classed, and gendered identities pertinent to her southern Italian and Italian American family history throughout the multifaceted examination of critical objects, Christine Scodari unearths pivot points of thought and action in the performance and representation of family history that can be adapted by others and facilitated by digital media. This alternate roots strategy, an expansive approach to family history, enables practitioners to venture beyond genetic definitions of kinship, their own ancestral history, and the struggles of those sharing their affiliations, and to interrogate genealogical media and related commodities and activities accordingly.