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

Ms. Rachel Breunlin
Website
Guest Editor
Ethnographer-in-Residence, Department of Anthropology, University of New Orleans (UNO), New Orleans, LA 70148, USA; Director of the Neighborhood Story Project (NSP)
Interests: Cultural anthropology, urban and collaborative anthropology, creative nonfiction, publishing, African Diaspora, New Orleans
Dr. Antoinette Jackson
Website SciProfiles
Guest Editor
Department of Anthropology, University of South Florida (USF), Tampa, FL 33620, USA; Director, USF Heritage Research Lab
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

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.

Ms. Rachel Breunlin
Dr. Antoinette Jackson
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.

Keywords

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

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Sankofa Time
Genealogy 2020, 4(4), 105; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4040105 - 22 Oct 2020
Abstract
Amongst the Akan people of Ghana, the word “Sankofa” can be broken down into three syllables— “san” (return), “ko” (go), and “fa” (take)—that can be translated into “go back and take it,” or more philosophically, go back to learn. It is often represented [...] Read more.
Amongst the Akan people of Ghana, the word “Sankofa” can be broken down into three syllables— “san” (return), “ko” (go), and “fa” (take)—that can be translated into “go back and take it,” or more philosophically, go back to learn. It is often represented by the Andinkra symbol of a bird with its feet facing forward and its head tucked behind; an apt metaphor for the practice of genealogical research. In Black communities in the United States, it is often evoked in attempts to reflect upon and engage with an African past. Full article
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Open AccessEditorial
Decolonizing Ways of Knowing: Heritage, Living Communities, and Indigenous Understandings of Place
Genealogy 2020, 4(3), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4030095 - 16 Sep 2020
Abstract
In “Decolonizing Ways of Knowing: Heritage, Living Communities, and Indigenous Understandings of Place”, we build on the scholarly and artistic practice of deep memory work to present a collection of articles, films, and artwork that contribute critical genealogies from the United States, Africa, [...] Read more.
In “Decolonizing Ways of Knowing: Heritage, Living Communities, and Indigenous Understandings of Place”, we build on the scholarly and artistic practice of deep memory work to present a collection of articles, films, and artwork that contribute critical genealogies from the United States, Africa, and the South Pacific. In this introduction, examples from Antoinette Jackson’s work in the American South and Rachel Breunlin’s work with the Neighborhood Story Project in New Orleans and Western Australia are used to build the special issue’s framework around public scholarship and art. With a particular emphasis on polyvocality, visual ethnography and creative nonfiction, the introduction argues that the work of decolonizing genealogy can be supported by respecting epistemologies that are deeply connected to place. Collectively, the contributors to the special issue demonstrate that creative practices around personal and collective histories can be an important way of reconnecting ties that may have been severed during years of colonialism. Full article
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Research

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Open AccessArticle
The People of K’Gari/Fraser Island: Working through 250 Years of Racial Double Coding
Genealogy 2020, 4(3), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4030074 - 08 Jul 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Genealogy is important to Aboriginal societies in Australia because it lets us know who has a right to speak for country. Our genealogy binds us to our traditional country as sovereign nations—clans with distinct languages, ceremony, laws, rights and responsibilities. Since the Native [...] Read more.
Genealogy is important to Aboriginal societies in Australia because it lets us know who has a right to speak for country. Our genealogy binds us to our traditional country as sovereign nations—clans with distinct languages, ceremony, laws, rights and responsibilities. Since the Native Title Act 1993 was passed by the Keating government, hundreds of Native Title claims have been lodged. The first Native Title claim to be lodged on Badtjala/Butchulla country was in 1996 by my great aunty, Olga Miller, followed by the Butchulla People #2 and the Butchulla People (Land & Sea Claim #2). Consent determination was awarded for K’gari (Fraser Island) in 2014 and for the mainland claim in 2019. As a sovereign nation, we have undergone many decades of deprivational longing—physically separated from our island, but in plain view. This article is written from a Badtjala lens, mapping generations of my Wondunna clan family through the eyes of an artist-academic who has created work since 1986 invested in cultural responsibility. With the accompanying film, Out of the Sea Like Cloud, I recenter the Badtjala history from a personal and local perspective, that incorporates national and international histories. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Nickel: A History of African-Descended People in Houston’s Fifth Ward
Genealogy 2020, 4(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4010033 - 24 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
This paper will chronicle the unique stories that have come to exemplify the larger experience of Fifth Ward as a historically African American district in a rapidly changing city, Houston. Fifth Ward is a district submerged in the Southern memory of a sprawling [...] Read more.
This paper will chronicle the unique stories that have come to exemplify the larger experience of Fifth Ward as a historically African American district in a rapidly changing city, Houston. Fifth Ward is a district submerged in the Southern memory of a sprawling port city. Its 19th century inception comprised of residents from Eastern Europe, Russia, and other religious groups who were fleeing persecution. Another way to describe Fifth Ward is much closer to the Fifth Ward that I knew as a child—an African American Fifth Ward and, more personally, my grandparents’ neighborhood. The growing prosperity of an early 20th century oil-booming Houston had soon turned the neighborhood into an economic haven, attracting African Americans from rural Louisiana and east Texas. Within the past two decades, Latino communities have populated the area, transforming the previously majority African American ward. Through a qualitative familial research review of historic documents, this paper contains a cultural and economic analysis that will illustrate the unique legacies and challenges of its past and present residents. I will center my personal genealogical roots to connect with larger patterns of change over time for African Americans in this distinct cultural ward. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Whakapapa Back: Mixed Indigenous Māori and Pākehā Genealogy and Heritage in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040073 - 16 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Māori tribal and social histories are founded on whakapapa (genealogy). Whakapapa and the knowledge of one’s ancestry is what connects all Māori to one another and is the central marker of traditional mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge). Knowledge of one’s whakapapa and ancestral links [...] Read more.
Māori tribal and social histories are founded on whakapapa (genealogy). Whakapapa and the knowledge of one’s ancestry is what connects all Māori to one another and is the central marker of traditional mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge). Knowledge of one’s whakapapa and ancestral links is at the root of Māori identity and heritage, which can be re-connected with even if a person has been dislocated from it by colonization, urbanization and/or marriage. The collective experiences of Māori are contextualized within whakapapa and narratives of iwi (tribe), hapū (sub-tribe) and whanau (family). Within the context of colonization, whakapapa as a meaningful epistemological framework has not been erased and continues to connect Māori to one another and our tribal lands, histories and stories. Whakapapa and Māori identity are underpinned by an epistemology based on Māori tikanga (customary practices) that take into account the importance of a collective vision. However, research on counseling with people of indigenous descent from Aotearoa/New Zealand has found that for people of mixed Māori and Pākehā (European) heritage, it is important to recognize both sides of a person’s family in working on mental health issues. To address the complications of mixed identity, this article is written from an autoethnographic point of view to share how whakapapa and genealogical links have shaped my identity as someone of mixed Māori and Pākehā heritage. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Lalibela: Spiritual Genealogy beyond Epistemic Violence in Ethiopia
Genealogy 2019, 3(4), 66; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3040066 - 02 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The rock hewn churches of Lalibela have special significance in the formation of Ethiopia’s consciousness as a sacred land of God’s covenant. Numerous local stories express the sanctity of Lalibela as a Heavenly Jerusalem on earth and the faithful use holy soil from [...] Read more.
The rock hewn churches of Lalibela have special significance in the formation of Ethiopia’s consciousness as a sacred land of God’s covenant. Numerous local stories express the sanctity of Lalibela as a Heavenly Jerusalem on earth and the faithful use holy soil from the churches to cure the sick. Every year, thousands of Tewahido believers travel to receive blessings. Local scholars who studied decades in the indigenous education system serve as intermediaries between the sanctity of the place and the people, and transmit their knowledge to the younger generation. This paper traces this spiritual genealogy to the creation story in the Kebra Nagast regarding the Ark of the Covenant (Tabot) and relates it to Lalibela’s famous churches. It demonstrates the existence of enduring spiritual genealogy that considers place as alive and powerful. The paper also reflects on how the loss of indigenous sources of knowledges, particularly through the stealing or taking of manuscripts by foreign collectors, and the rise of a Eurocentric interpretation of the history of Lalibela challenges this millennial spiritual tradition. It argues that this has resulted in epistemic violence, the practice of interpreting local knowledge with a foreign lens in a way that reinforces colonial Eurocentric views that are then internalised within Africans themselves. Despite such challenges, it shows how the genealogy continues through the very identity and practice of local communities and individuals. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Ará Òrun Kìn-ìn Kin-in: Òyó-Yòrùbá Egúngún Masquerade in Communion and Maintenance of Ontological Balance
Genealogy 2019, 3(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy3010007 - 05 Feb 2019
Abstract
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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Review

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Open AccessReview
Source to Subject: Fiona Foley’s Evolving Use of Archives
Genealogy 2020, 4(3), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4030076 - 09 Jul 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Since the 1980s, multidisciplinary artist Fiona Foley has created compelling art referencing her history, Aboriginal art, and her Badtjala heritage. In this brief essay, the author discusses an early series of Foley’s work in relation to ethnographic photography. This series connects to the [...] Read more.
Since the 1980s, multidisciplinary artist Fiona Foley has created compelling art referencing her history, Aboriginal art, and her Badtjala heritage. In this brief essay, the author discusses an early series of Foley’s work in relation to ethnographic photography. This series connects to the wider trend of Indigenous artists creating art out of 19th century photographs intended for distribution to non-Indigenous audiences. By considering this earlier series of her work, this text considers Foley’s growth as a truly contemporary artist who uses the past as inspiration, invoking complicated moments of encounter between Europeans and Aboriginal Australians and their afterimages. Full article
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Other

Open AccessCreative
Embarkation: Reimagining a Taoist Ritual Ceremony
Genealogy 2020, 4(3), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4030092 - 08 Sep 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Poet and artist Shin Yu Pai shares the origins and process of creating her performance video piece Embarkation. Informed by Buddhist and Taoist rituals from Bhutan and Taiwan, Pai reflects on her efforts to reimagine a traditional Taoist ceremony in the context [...] Read more.
Poet and artist Shin Yu Pai shares the origins and process of creating her performance video piece Embarkation. Informed by Buddhist and Taoist rituals from Bhutan and Taiwan, Pai reflects on her efforts to reimagine a traditional Taoist ceremony in the context of a personal grief ritual performed for the stage. She discusses the process of collaborating with film, video, theater, and movement artists from both Taiwan and Seattle, including Ye Mimi, Scott Keva James, Jane Kaplan and Vanessa DeWolf, and how her vision evolved over many iterations. The roles of community, audience, and creative friendships are also explored in the context of how they can invigorate a creative work. Full article
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