Department of Anthropology

New Genealogy: It's Not Just for Kinship Anymore

Quinlan RJ and Hagen EH 2008. New Genealogy: It's Not Just for Kinship Anymore. Field Methods.

Genealogy has been one pillar of anthropological research since the earliest ethnographic fieldwork. A turn toward demographically and quantitatively oriented kinship studies in the 1960’s highlighted the need for more systematic genealogical methods. New computer assisted, iterative field methods were developed in response. These methods can dramatically improve data quality and quantity, and they are remarkably flexible. Here I outline an iterative genealogical approach that has been used to study kinship, migration, education, alcoholism, food sharing, intragroup aggression, father absence, community fissioning, and land ownership. I demonstrate the reliability of these data, and I show how they can be analyzed. The unobtrusive genealogical methods outlined here could be used to study terminologies and cognitive models of kinship; however, I focus on applications to demography, epidemiology and economics.