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Carol Smart - Family Secrets

Date: 3 March 2009 Time: Bowland North Seminar Room 2 16.15-18.00

The keeping of secrets in families, especially those relating to reproduction and paternity, is seen increasingly as undesirable and even harmful to future generations. The rise of genetic counselling and paternity testing has created a climate in which practices of disguising 'irregular' births and oddly assorted biological relationships is no longer seen as being in the best interests of children, nor sometimes of men who may not be genetic fathers of the children they raise. This paper explores these issues and the growing tendency for family law and policy to favour exposing genetic truths when faced with problems arising within messy relationships. Family secrets (using data drawn from the Mass Observation Archive) will be explored and located in their cultural and historical context and an argument against imposing a simple solution (in the form of genetic truth) onto complex relationships will be pursued.


Who can attend: Anyone


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Organising departments and research centres: Sociology


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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