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Quantifying Bloodlines: DNA, Family Histories, and the Myth of Purity

Brooklyn Historical Society

Saturday, November 16, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM (EST)

Quantifying Bloodlines: DNA, Family Histories, and the...

Ticket Information

Donation Type Sales End Amount
Session #1 - Nov 16th (What's Biology Got to Do with It?): $20 Ended
Session # 2 - Dec 7th (What's Purity Got to Do with It?): $20 Ended
Double Deal - both sessions of Quantifying Bloodlines series: $35 Ended
Pay What You Can -- No one will be excluded due to lack of funds Ended

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Event Details

Quantifying Bloodlines is a monthly reading group organized by anthropologist and oral historian Jennifer Scott. Join others interested in exploring the relationship between biology and race, as we discuss two widely acclaimed books. Through stories, we will discuss how we segment heritage and explain descent, paying close attention to past and existing ideas of purity, racial and economic privilege, and scientific thinking. 

For more information on the Quantifying Bloodlines series, click here.

All registrants must purchase their own copies of books. Workshop is limited to 15 participants. Active participation is key.


Session 1: What's Biology Got to Do with It? The Social Life of Genetics

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

3:00PM – 6:00PM

Reading: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

What do we learn about ourselves through genetics and genealogy? How does DNA connect with what we know about our family’s ancestry and cultural heritage? Join anthropologist, Jennifer Scott in conversation with sociologist, Ann Morning, author of The Nature of Race: How Scientists Think and Teach about Human Difference (2011) for a discussion, examining the “social life of DNA.”

We will explore the tremendous social impact of one woman’s cellular legacy upon the world and the personal impact upon her direct descendants as her family discovers how their biological genes were used to make unprecedented medical advancements and enormous profits without their consent. Looking at the connections between biology and culture, this discussion session will explore the meanings of heredity, inheritance, and questions of bioethics.

Registration Deadline: November 1st, 2013


Session 2: What's Purity Got to Do with It? Searching Family History and Genealogy

Saturday, December 7th, 2013

3:00PM – 6:00PM

Reading: The Fiddler on Pantico Run: An African Warrior, His White Descendants, A Search for Family by Joe Mozingo

How do stories help us to understand the ways in which we dissect lineage? Bring in your own family tree, genealogical research, family photos, or family name origins, while we take a close look at one man’s search for family history through a surname, that both haunts and intrigues him, confuses some and unlocks hidden history. Short multi-media pieces will be screened.

If you are just beginning to search for your family history or have searched for many years, this discussion session will help to illuminate the discovery process about lineage, identity and race.

Registration Deadline: November 22nd, 2013



Jennifer Scott is a Part-Time Professor at The New School for Public Engagement, Parsons School of Art and Design History and Theory, and Pratt Institute’s Graduate School of Arts and Cultural Management, where she teaches courses in cultural anthropology, museology and global studies. An anthropologist and oral historian, she performed historical and curatorial research for a number of museums, non-profits, arts and history organizations for almost 20 years.

Most recently, Jennifer served as the public historian for almost a decade at Weeksville Heritage Center, a historic house museum specializing in innovative study and applications of history, culture, the arts and civic engagement. There, she launched Weeksville’s oral history and genealogy projects. Before Weeksville, Jennifer worked with City Lore for the Place Matters Project on the Lower EastSide of Manhattan documenting historic places and the diverse stories of communities throughout New York City. Jennifer researches, writes and lectures locally and internationally, and is a contributor to a number of publications on museums, cultural heritage, and social relevancy.


Crossing Borders, Bridging Generations, an oral history and public programming series, examines the history and experiences of mixed-heritage people and families, cultural hybridity, race, ethnicity and identity. For inquiries, email nsen@brooklynhistory.org or call 718.222.4111. Ext 217.

Have questions about Quantifying Bloodlines: DNA, Family Histories, and the Myth of Purity? Contact Brooklyn Historical Society

When & Where

Brooklyn Historical Society, Othmer Library
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Saturday, November 16, 2013 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM (EST)

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Founded in 1863, Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) functions as a library, museum, and urban education center dedicated to the people of Brooklyn, providing opportunities for civic dialogue and thoughtful engagement. Each year, 70,000 students and teachers use our innovative programs and resources to learn about American History and scholars conduct important academic research in our Library and Archives. Through partnerships with government and community groups, BHS reaches communities throughout New York City, serving as a hub for information and ideas about Brooklyn and its complex history.

Housed in a magnificent Landmark Building in Brooklyn Heights, designed by George Post in 1878, BHS maintains an important collection of historical manuscripts, books, photographs, maps, paintings, objects, and ephemera dating back to the 17th century. BHS is a long-standing yet modern institution in both outlook and action. We are Brooklyn’s preeminent history center, responsible for preserving and presenting Brooklyn’s history; our collection continues to grow through the acquisition of contemporary and historical works of art, photographs, documents, books, and oral histories.

Phone: 718.222.4111





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Quantifying Bloodlines: DNA, Family Histories, and the Myth of Purity
Brooklyn, NY Events

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