Special Issue "Decolonizing Ways of Knowing: Heritage, Living Communities, and Indigenous Understandings of Place"

A special issue of Genealogy (ISSN 2313-5778).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Antoinette Jackson

Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida (USF), Tampa, FL 33620, USA; Director, USF Heritage Research Lab
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sociocultural and historical anthropology; identity and representation; social construction of race, class, gender, ethnicity; heritage resource management; American, African American and African Diaspora culture; ethnographic research methods; United States, Caribbean
Guest Editor
Ms. Rachel Breunlin

Ethnographer-in-Residence, Department of Anthropology, University of New Orleans (UNO), New Orleans, LA 70148, USA; Director of the Neighborhood Story Project (NSP)
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Cultural anthropology, urban and collaborative anthropology, creative nonfiction, publishing, African Diaspora, New Orleans

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This special issue of Genealogy invites essays on the topic, “Decolonizing Ways of Knowing: Heritage, Living Communities, and Indigenous Built Environments.” Manuscripts may focus on all aspects of heritage, heritage preservation, and traditions of knowing and engaging the past in the present. The “State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2016” report, published by the Minority Rights Group International (MRG), emphasized the close interconnections between culture and nature, the relationship between people and places, and that these associations are particularly relevant to indigenous communities. We invite contributions that imagine possibilities and associations that mark our humanity cross-culturally including practices of honoring the dead, worshiping/acknowledging ancestors, tracing kinship/genealogical associations, transmitting local histories and knowledge of place, and creating shared identity through oral history and storytelling. There are, of course, associated tensions. As Michael Brown points out, “Cultural heritage, whether embodied in places or stories, is a shape-shifting, protean thing whose contours may be contested even by those who create it” (Brown 2014: 178). With these tensions in mind, we also invite contributions focusing on the ethics of the uses of heritage, including the preservation of heritage resources as commodities and as markers of cultural identity within indigenous communities.

In “Decolonizing Ways of Knowing,” we seek to investigate critical genealogies of settler colonialism, and ask, “What can genealogy studies learn from other conceptions of family history as well as family history preservation and transmission practices cross-culturally?” We are interested in how cultural groups situated outside of Western paradigms have conceived genealogy, and how these ways of knowing can challenge us to think differently about conceptions of time, create deeper dialogues between the living and the dead, and tend to our connections to place. In Benin and Nigeria, for instance, Egungun festivals call forth the spirits of the ancestors in masquerades where the living are confronted with past lives. In Australia, many indigenous communities have conducted genealogy as part land rights claims, but their claims are also directly related to their custodianship of sacred sites that are part of the Dreaming—a time outside of time—that informs cosmology and kinship.  Traditionally, the names and pictures of the dead, precious to other cultures, may not be spoken of or viewed. Many documentaries now begin with a warning: “This book may contain names and images of Aboriginal people now deceased.”

For this special issue we invite contributions that showcase the diverse ways that information, knowledge and stories are shared between generations (i.e., practice and performance); examine issues of positionality with respect to knowledge production (reflexivity); and critique relations or systems of power (critical theory/embodied knowledge). At its core, the contributions will contribute to the process of decolonization:

The divestment of foreign occupying powers from Indigenous homelands, modes of government, ways of caring for the people and living landscapes, and especially ways of thinking. For non-Indigenous individuals, decolonization work means stepping back from normative expectations… [Duarte & Belarde-Lewis 2015: 678-679]

We hope to attract a broad audience both within and outside academic institutions and encourages dialogue in multiple forms. We seek to broaden the framework for genealogy studies and welcome your creative works including scholarly research papers, reports, interviews, field notes, visual productions, poetry, prose, drawings, and descriptions of community engagement, rituals, and heritage preservations activities. We encourage submissions that address topics including, but not limited to the following:

  • Critical genealogies that decolonize knowledge production
  • Critical genealogies of settler colonialism
  • Cross-cultural family history-making practices
  • Totem identities and knowledge transfer
  • Ancestral worship—performance and practice in public and private settings
  • Critical investigations into the construction of local histories
  • Collaborative cultural heritage preservation with living communities
  • Multi-media memory work
  • Intergenerational communication and knowledge transfer
  • Critical pedagogies of place that connect global processes to local histories.
  • Ethics of heritage preservation and cultural appropriation

Thank-you! We look forward to receiving your works on this topic.

Dr. Antoinette Jackson
Ms. Rachel Breunlin
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Genealogy is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Critical family history
  • radical humanism and memory work
  • decolonizing knowledge
  • ancestral worship
  • clans and totem associations
  • cultural heritage ethics

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle
Ará Òrun Kìn-ìn Kin-in: Òyó-Yòrùbá Egúngún Masquerade in Communion and Maintenance of Ontological Balance
Received: 15 November 2018 / Revised: 13 December 2018 / Accepted: 29 January 2019 / Published: 5 February 2019
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The belief that there is life after death and that the spirits of the deceased are directly involved in the daily affairs of the living are strong among the Òyó-Yorùbá people of south-western Nigeria. These beliefs are evident in their egúngún culture, a [...] Read more.
The belief that there is life after death and that the spirits of the deceased are directly involved in the daily affairs of the living are strong among the Òyó-Yorùbá people of south-western Nigeria. These beliefs are evident in their egúngún culture, a decidedly Yorùbá masking culture in which the spirits of long-dead ancestors are believed to manifest in bodily form as egúngún, in re-visitations to the people they once knew and community they once lived in. The present study explores the connexion processes through which egúngún Mowuru and Jeńjù have engaged in establishing and maintaining contact between the living and the dead in the Òyó community. In this ethnographic study, two egúngún personages (eléégún) who have been directly involved in actual masking of egúngún were interrogated about their first-hand experiences. Fifteen other worshipers and stakeholders of egúngún were also interviewed. It was observed that the art and performances that institute contact by human with the spirits of the egúngún share basic worship principles as found in other religions. Such principles include regular worship, invocations, sacrificing of materials and spilling of blood to the spirit of Jeńjù and Mowuru to ensure communication and provoke ontological balance between the two worlds. Full article

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Genealogy EISSN 2313-5778 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
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