The article attempts to move beyond cursory definitions to explore the fundamental core and practice of genealogy. Some genealogical writers think that it is history or a subset of history. Others view it as a study of kinship, or relations, and identity. Though technology is increasingly used as a tool to do genealogy, it is not viewed as its essence. The article moves toward an answer to the question “what is genealogy?” through four interventions directed at these four concepts. It examines history, kinship, identity, and technology in relation to genealogy. It demonstrates key differences between history and genealogy. It discusses the use of the genealogical model in anthropology, and then relates how sociology views kinship as social. Four kinds of identity are relevant to genealogy, but none answers what genealogy is. The article argues that genealogy is a technology in the ancient Greek sense. Technē is primarily a kind of practical knowledge with characteristics congruent with genealogy’s project. Genealogy is a technē in its essence rather than history, a study of kinship, or a study of identity.
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