Paternity: The Elusive Quest for the Father

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Product Details
Harvard University Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 1.2 X 9.3 inches | 2.6 pounds
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About the Author
Nara B. Milanich is Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she teaches courses on the history of family, gender, and childhood. She has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities and was a fellow at the Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University. Her previous book, Children of Fate, won the Grace Abbott Book Award from the Society for the History of Children and Youth.
In this rigorous and beautifully researched volume, Milanich considers the tension between social and biological definitions of fatherhood, and shows how much we still have to learn about what constitutes a father.--Andrew Solomon, author of Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity
Dazzling in scope and masterfully written, Milanich's book delves beneath the quest for certainty to find what we are really looking for in paternity and why it continues to haunt us.--Steven Mintz, author of The Prime of Life: A History of Modern Adulthood
This splendid work shows how the development and use of paternity testing over several centuries determined individuals' fates. For millions of people, 'Who's your daddy?' was not simply an idle question, but often a matter of life or death.--Sonya Michel, author of Children's Interests/Mothers' Rights: The Shaping of America's Child Care Policy
Original, well-written, and wonderfully researched, this exciting new book provides an analysis of paternity that is rich and global in scope.--Alexandra Minna Stern, author of Telling Genes: The Story of Genetic Counseling in America
Solidly researched and enlightening.--Margaret Talbot"New Yorker" (07/01/2019)
Milanich has a knack for finding a gripping story and telling it in almost novelistic or journalistic cadences. Surely, this is the definitive book on the subject of paternity testing.-- (08/08/2019)
Very readable, occasionally riveting...Milanich's basic claim, that the search for the father reveals central aspects of modernity, proves convincing.--Kerstin Maria Pahl"Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung" (10/04/2019)
Sifts through decades worth of family sagas, articles, and court records to reveal how cultural ideas about fatherhood have remained stubbornly consistent in the face of scientific progress.--Elizabeth Svoboda"Undark" (07/05/2019)
'Mama's baby, Papa's maybe.' DNA testing has all but destroyed the uncertainty that has attended paternity for millennia. Milanich has written a fascinating history of the ways societies have coped with anxiety about paternity, and how that anxiety has helped construct notions of fatherhood, masculinity, race, and family.--Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family
Paternity offers a rich, erudite, and often humorous historical analysis of how paternity testing technologies developed at the intersection of science, national governance, and popular culture.--Rayna Rapp, author of Testing Women, Testing the Fetus: The Social Impact of Amniocentesis in America
Milanich follows the incremental changes, through the emergence of DNA fingerprinting in the 1980s all the way to mobile units--resembling ice-cream vans--testing DNA on the streets, all part of the billion-dollar industry of genetic knowledge.--The Economist (06/08/2019)
Expertly uses richly contextualize a history of paternity in the twentieth century...The transatlantic sweep and the dense, archivally supported detail of Milanich's analysis is breathtaking.--Michele Pridmore-Brown"Times Literary Supplement" (02/28/2020)
Milanich, a skilled storyteller, offers a fascinating social history, from the earliest times and across cultures to the rise of Big Paternity...This deeply researched and engaging exploration will likely challenge readers' notions about paternity and shift their perspectives.--B. K. Jackson"Severance" (02/10/2020)