Representing forbears online and offline: addressing indeterminacy in genealogical charts at school

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The paper aims to discuss challenges posed by the task of truthfully representing kinship relations, as far as students’ endeavours in Latvian schools are concerned. Acquiring History, Biology, and the Study of Society, pupils learn the concepts of family tree and pedigree from several angles. Compiling a genealogical chart of their own is proposed not as an aim of learning per se but as a tool intended to help the students to comprehend the phenomena under consideration in the school curricula. Among such phenomena are generations and family structure(s), transmission of memories and genes.
Some students get carried along and devote to their genealogical projects much more time than the curriculum prescribes. In the process, pupils as well as their teachers may have to make difficult choices concerning the patterns of representation. Difficulties are two-fold: while a degree of indeterminacy may characterize one’s kinship relations, the kin categories on the subject curriculum as well as on online genealogical sites are usually clear-cut and never numerous. To avoid indeterminacy and build comprehensible genealogical charts, a few representational strategies are being advanced. They serve the learning goals well but may leave students with conflicting feelings about their accomplishment, none the least about its correspondence to the nitty-gritty facts of life.
The discussion will draw on several expert interviews with teachers and in-depth interviews with their pupils. These data will be complemented by a case study that relates a family history and examines its representation in a genealogical chart, both offline and online.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2022
EventNordic Ethnology and Folklore Conference - University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 13 Jun 202216 Jun 2022


ConferenceNordic Ethnology and Folklore Conference
Internet address

Field of Science*

  • 5.9 Other social sciences
  • 5.4 Sociology

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


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