Detecting ancestry: The use of genealogical machines and techniques in the reconstruction of family histories

By Sarah Abel, Gísli Pálsson


The last twenty years have seen the emergence of “genealogical machines” that promise to revolutionize family history research. This article examines the tracing practices involved in these technologies, and their impact on shaping current concepts of kinship, drawing on two case studies: one relates to the efforts of Icelandic descendants in North America to reinsert themselves into the national family tree; the other follows the attempts by an Icelandic man to establish ties with the father he never met.


  • kinship
  • DNA tests
  • genealogy
  • Iceland
  • ancestry
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