Date(s) - Wednesday, September 9th
6:00 pm CDT - 7:00 pm CDT
Presented in Partnership with The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, PA
You swab your cheek or spit into a vial, then send it away to a lab somewhere. Weeks later you get a report that might tell you where your ancestors came from or if you carry certain genetic risks. Or the report could reveal a long-buried family secret and upend your entire sense of identity. Soon a lark becomes an obsession, an incessant desire to find answers to questions at the core of your being, like “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” Welcome to the age of home genetic testing.
Award-winning journals Libby Copeland will discuss her new book, The Lost Family: How DNA Testing Is Upending Who We Are. In this book, Copeland investigates what happens when we embark on a vast social experiment with little understanding of the ramifications. She 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.
Wednesday, September 9, 6pm CT/7pm ET
Registration is Required to Access the Zoom Session
This program is free and open to the public | Suggested donation $5
All donations will be shared between JMM and the National Museum of American Jewish History.
About Libby Copeland
Libby Copeland is an award-winning journalist and author, who writes from New York about culture, science, and human behavior. As a freelance journalist, she writes for such media outlets as The Atlantic, Slate, New York, Smithsonian, The New York Times, The New Republic, Esquire.com, and The Wall Street Journal. Her book, The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are, was published in March by Abrams Press.
The Lost Family explores the rapidly evolving phenomenon of home DNA testing, its implications for how we think about family and ourselves, and its ramifications for American culture broadly.
The Wall Street Journal says it’s “a fascinating account of lives dramatically affected by genetic sleuthing.” The New York Times writes, “Before You Spit in That Vial, Read This Book.” The Washington Post says The Lost Family “reads like an Agatha Christie mystery” and “wrestles with some of the biggest questions in life: Who are we? What is family? Are we defined by nature, nurture or both?”
As a staff reporter and editor for The Washington Post for 11 years, Libby wrote feature stories from the 2008 presidential campaign trail, the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, and the 2005 Michael Jackson trial, and she edited the newspaper’s television coverage. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, and NPR as an expert on topics that she has covered, and she has been a guest speaker many times on writing and reporting.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she was a 2010 media fellow at Stanford University. Her article for Esquire.com, “Kate’s Still Here,” won Hearst Magazines’ 2017 Editorial Excellence Award for “reported feature or profile.” She previously won first prize in the feature specialty category from the Society for Features Journalism. She lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband and two children.
Sponsored by the Young Leadership Division of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation.
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