Genealogical Manuscripts: A cross-cultural perspective

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Call for Papers
December 13, 2019 to December 14, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Early Modern History and Period Studies, European History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Humanities, World History / Studies

The workshop will explore the wealth of manuscripts dedicated to presenting genealogical information across cultures. It is interested in all forms of written artefacts that have been produced to present and clarify kinship relations. Realizing that “kinship” has various meanings, the workshop discusses “genealogical” in a wide sense, also including phenomena like teacher-pupil-relations. We consider those manuscripts “genealogical” that are organized by connecting distinct items in order to express filiations, in whatever graphical form. While we remain particularly interested in genealogical materials that express filial relations between human beings (whether biological or not), we also share an interest into more abstract genealogies of non-living things (e.g. in diagrams of “language-families”).

We assume that genealogy as a form of organizing information creates specific forms of manuscripts, including diagrammatic forms such as lists and tables. The workshop seeks to compare manuscripts produced by different cultures in order to present genealogical information. We hope to combine case studies that show how genealogical manuscripts function, and what they show (and do not show), with studies focusing on the creation of such manuscripts. Some of the larger questions, which we are particularly interested in, include the following:

  • Which forms of genealogical manuscripts exist? Are there multiple possibilities available to put genealogical information into writing? Which kind of information is treated in genealogical fashion?
  • How are genealogical tables, especially larger ones, designed and produced? How does the drawing of genealogical diagrams work in practice? Which specific practical problems occur in the process of creating genealogical manuscripts? How can the f public forms of genealogical writing compare to the preparatory stages?
  • What purposes do genealogical manuscripts in their different forms and formats have, and how are they used in different social, cultural, religious, or political contexts? How are they recycled and/or updated, once new genealogical information appears (as is very likely to happen, given that families constantly grow and change)?
  • Who are the actors behind the production of genealogical manuscripts? What necessities drives people to write down genealogical information? Are there institutions specifically dedicated to producing such manuscripts?

The workshop highlights case studies from Europe, the Islamic World, and the Far East, but we also hope to include examples from other manuscript cultures. We focus on manuscripts of all periods up to the present day.

Please send a brief exposé of no more than 400 words by June 9th to Notifications of acceptance will be sent out mid-June. Further questions may also be addressed to Markus Friedrich.

Contact Info: 

Prof. Markus Friedrich

Professor for Early Modern European History

Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures

Hamburg University