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The Ivy is pleased to welcome Libby Copeland for a discussion about her new book, The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are.
In The Lost Family, journalist Libby Copeland investigates what happens when we embark on a vast social experiment with little understanding of the ramifications. Copeland explores the culture of genealogy buffs, the science of DNA, and the business of companies like Ancestry and 23andMe, all while tracing the story of one woman, her unusual results, and a relentless methodical drive for answers that becomes a thoroughly modern genetic detective story.
The Lost Family delves into the many lives that have been irrevocably changed by home DNA tests—a technology that represents the end of family secrets. There are the adoptees who've used the tests to find their birth parents; donor-conceived adults who suddenly discover they have more than fifty siblings; hundreds of thousands of Americans who discover their fathers aren't biologically related to them, a phenomenon so common it is known as a "non-paternity event"; and individuals who are left to grapple with their conceptions of race and ethnicity when their true ancestral histories are discovered. Throughout these accounts, Copeland explores the impulse toward genetic essentialism and raises the question of how much our genes should get to tell us about who we are. With more than thirty million people having undergone home DNA testing, the answer to that question is more important than ever. Gripping and masterfully told, The Lost Family is a spectacular book on a big, timely subject.
Libby Copeland is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Washington Post, New York magazine, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and many other publications. Copeland was a reporter and editor at the Post for eleven years, has been a media fellow and guest lecturer, and has made numerous appearances on television and radio.
Jennifer Mendelsohn is a seasoned journalist and ghostwriter whose work has appeared in numerous local and national publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, People, Slate, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times and Politico. A native Long Islander now based in Baltimore, Mendelsohn has been passionately engaged in the world of genealogy since 2013. She serves on the board of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland and is the administrator of Facebook’s Jewish genetic genealogy group. She is the creator of the movement known as #resistancegenealogy, a project that uses genealogical and historical records to fight disinformation and honor America’s immigrant past. Her work has received international media attention, including being featured on CNN.com, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.
TIME & DATE
Thursday, March 5, 2020 - 7:00pm