Data Mining the Deceased

One Book Documentary: Data Mining the Deceased

Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 6:30pm to 8:00pm
  • Library Hall
A film about ancestry and the business of family, including a conversation with filmmaker Julia Creet
Genealogy is the largest historical enterprise in the world and one of the largest data mining operations, driven by the Mormons, and genetic genealogy testing companies. In Data Mining the Deceased Julia Creet explores the industry behind the exponential intensity of genealogy, raising some key questions: What are the motivations of the key players and how are their ambitions affecting the millions of North Americans who are searching for answers? And, should we be concerned about the ownership and privacy of personal data in the international flow and aggregation of vast quantities of vital information about the living and the dead. Integral to the question of family history, Data Mining the Deceased asks: What is family?
After the film, director Julia Creet shares additional insights and joins us via Skype for a Q&A.

About the filmmaker

Julia Creet is a leading international scholar in Cultural Memory Studies having been involved in the development of the field since the 1990s. Prof. Creet’s research projects are broadly interdisciplinary spanning the Humanities and the Social Sciences including the history of the Holocaust, literary studies, film studies, archival studies, public history, data privacy and direct-to-consumer genetics.

Memory and Migration: Multidisciplinary approaches to memory studies, co-edited with Andreas Kitzmann is one of the foundational texts in the field of Memory Studies. Her forthcoming The Genealogical Sublime is a crossover academic/trade book that traces the cultural, historical and corporate histories of the longest, largest, and most profitable genealogy databases in the world.

In 2017, Julia Creet received a York Research Leader Award in part for her leadership in public engagement. In addition to her scholarship, Creet has also produced and directed two documentary films. MUM: A Story of Silence  is a personal documentary about a Holocaust survivor who tried to forget. That engagement with family history led to a documentary investigating the cultural and technological zeitgeist of genealogy itself, Data Mining the Deceased: Ancestry and the Business of Family.


Run Time: 

56 minutes

This is a featured event in the 2020 ONE BOOK STEAMBOAT community read of Dani Shapiro's Inheritance.