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10.7: Genealogy

  • Page ID
    107119
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    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Herzon Ludwig family tree

    Genealogy which stems from the Greek words logos and genea meaning descent knowledge is the study of family’s lineages through history. Genealogists strive to learn when, where, and how certain people lived. Their subjects are usually their ancestors, particularly small groups, or an important or famous person.

    Genealogy was traditionally used in Western societies to determine the blood rights of nobles and kings. The ruling class used genealogy and recorded their lineage because being a noble or royalty gave them certain privileges. Genealogy is now mainly used by hobbyists, who easily use resources on the internet to track their family history. One site commonly used for this is http://www.genealogy.com/index_r.html.

    Genealogy is not the same as kinship. Genealogy is the study of tracing a family's lineage all the way back to the earliest ancestor, whereas kinship is based on the feeling of relatedness to people through descent, sharing, or marriage. The history of genealogy can be separated into three different periods:

    1. Oral tradition
    2. Written pedigrees
    3. Modern genealogy.

    Oral tradition

    Early civilizations relied on memory to recite pedigrees of monarchs or noble families. This lead towards establishing the authority of a “pure” bloodline by listing the names of the family members, relations, marriages, and children of descent. For example, in the Bible, there are countless genealogies that are from the direct bloodline of King David. Specific passages where genealogies can be found in the Old Testament are in Genesis 5 [34][43] and 10 [35].[44] In the New Testament passages come from Matthew 1:2-16 [36][45] and Luke 3:23-38 [37].[46]

    Written pedigrees

    During the time of the Greeks and the Romans, pedigrees were starting to be recorded in written form rather than by memory. From 1100 to the 1500s monks recorded the English monarchy and noble families genealogies. The middle class (landowners) genealogies started being recorded as well. This was due to the events of the Reformation and the early formations of a census during the Renaissances. As Feudalism began to disappear and the middle class began to grow. For example, the Tudor family's lineage can be traced back to the 1400s. [38] [47]

    Modern genealogy

    There has been an increasing interest in one’s own genealogy since 1945. The average citizen is able to research their own family genealogy through public records or on websites such as http://www.ancestry.com/[39].[48] However, professional genealogists research a wide range of information. Focusing not only on the family background but the country’s history as well. A common problem that both genealogists and anthropologists face is genealogical amnesia.[49][50] For example, in places such as Bali people are referred to as the descendant of their mother or father instead of by their personal names. This is known as teknonymy.[51][52] Genealogical amnesia is also practiced in the United States, married women tend to take their husband’s last name and abandon their maiden name.

    Tekonymy in Bali

    Teknonymy distinguishes the main generational strata, the children, parents, grandparents, and great grandparents strata which are in turn significant components of village society, such as in the cases of teknonymy in Bali The Balinese gentry however exhibit in reverse the relationship between tekonymy and community social position. Most nobles are addressed not by teknonyms, but by a single honorific title which persists throughout their lives, unaffected by age or generation. In some cases, the teknonyms employed are specially modified forms, terms which are more eloquent than those employed by commoners and which vary quite precisely with their rank within the gentry group.


    10.7: Genealogy is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Wikibooks - Cultural Anthropology.

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