Family History: Relatives, Roots, and Databases
How are the concepts of ‘me’, ‘my relatives’ and ‘family’ shaped in the specific historical practice of contemporary family histories, written by family historians about their own relatives? Object of this study is a corpus of more than 120 contemporary histories, selected at the CBG (Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie), a national desk that facilitates genealogical research in The Netherlands.
The analysis of this corpus covers templates of timelines, digital influences, concepts of family, and repertoires of family historians as writers. The intertwining of classical concepts and software-terms, and the intimate relations between individuals and their technological, digital artifacts is studied here in the tradition of Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory (ANT). This study discloses the conceptual juggling with concepts needed in our descriptions of the past of our relatives.