Critical Settler Family History

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 35047

Special Issue Editor

School of Social Sciences, The University of Auckland, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
Interests: legacy of colonization in indigenous-settler identity politics and relations; strategies for decolonization; responsibilities of settler peoples toward decolonization, and especially the possibilities of postcolonial ethics; critical settler family history

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

This Special Issue follows the lines of inquiry established by Christine Sleeter’s arguments for ‘critical family history’, applying these to the particular locations and experiences of settler colonial families. Critical settler family history brings together the genealogical work of family history and critical scholarship, centring on the lives of individual settler families to illuminate the structures, processes and power relations of settler colonial societies. Such explorations of family and societal histories may also provide a platform on which to develop arguments about the future of settler societies. Critical settler family history work reflects on the past to consider the question of settler descendant identities and social locations in the present and responsibilities towards a decolonial future.

Critical settler family history is an inter-disciplinary field and submissions are welcome from scholars across the social sciences and humanities. Papers are invited for this Special Issue that draw on the lives of settler families over one or more generations to respond to questions such as the following:

  • How did this family accrue forms of privilege in relation to their indigenous neighbours and how does that history of privilege impact on the family’s position today?
  • What have been the relationships between this family and the indigenous communities they lived amongst and alongside, how have these changed over time and what do they tell us about the trajectory of settler colonialism in this society?
  • How have societal gender and/or sexual norms shaped and/or been resisted in the trajectories of family members and what insights does this history offer in relation to the role of the policing of gender and sexuality in the settler colonial project?
  • How has this family navigated the social class structure of the settler society and what insights does this history offer in relation to the intersection of colonialism, ‘race’ and class?
  • Which memories have been preserved in this family across generations and which stories have been silenced/forgotten, and what can these memories and/or silences tell us about dominant settler colonial narratives?
  • How has this family been involved in the dispossession of indigenous lands, and how does their changing situation of landedness/landlessness help us make sense of the trajectory of settler colonialism?
  • What ethical dilemmas are raised in critical settler family history work? These dilemmas might arise in relation to responsibilities to ancestors and to contemporary descendants of communities, families and individuals. They might also arise in relation to recounting histories that involve indigenous communities.
  • What narrative forms and/or theoretical concepts lend themselves to the production of critical settler genealogical history rather than family stories of success, inevitability, and rights of belonging? 

Please direct any inquires and submit a 200--300 word abstract by 31 July 2020 to the special issue editor at [email protected]. A notification of acceptance will be sent by August 31, and full manuscripts are due by 30 June 2021.

Authors submitting to this special issue, the journal will not charge the APCs.

Dr. Avril Bell
Guest Editor

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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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 1400 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 settler family history
  • Settler colonialism
  • Indigenous-settler relations
  • Remembering and forgetting
  • Settler nationalism
  • Settler responsibilities

Published Papers (11 papers)

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6 pages, 180 KiB  
Editorial
Introduction: Studies of Critical Settler Family History
by Avril Bell
Genealogy 2022, 6(2), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy6020049 - 30 May 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2162
Abstract
The critical study of one’s own family history is a relatively new field that sits at the intersection of family genealogical research and scholarly research [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
14 pages, 261 KiB  
Article
Not-Talking/Not-Knowing: Autoethnography and Settler Family Histories in Aotearoa New Zealand
by Carolyn Morris
Genealogy 2022, 6(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy6010010 - 25 Jan 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2648
Abstract
Critical family history analyses have generated powerful insights into the history and ongoing workings of colonization by bringing to light forgotten family histories and reframing them as stories of colonialism. Such work unsettles the descendants of early colonizers by compelling them to acknowledge [...] Read more.
Critical family history analyses have generated powerful insights into the history and ongoing workings of colonization by bringing to light forgotten family histories and reframing them as stories of colonialism. Such work unsettles the descendants of early colonizers by compelling them to acknowledge the ways in which they continue to benefit from the colonizing actions of their ancestors. My family were colonizers, and some not-very-distant ancestors were part of the first wave of “settlers” who dispossessed Māori of their land in coastal Taranaki. Where my family differs from the families of many writers in the critical family history field is that they remain almost to this day on the land first taken by our direct ancestors. The question I address is how these settler farmers deal with the fact that the land that is now theirs is only recently so, and only became so through acts of violent dispossession, and that the descendants of the original possessors of that land continue to live on the Coast. I argue that one way that settler-colonizers deal with this uncomfortable history is to erase it. The erasure of this history is accomplished through the simple but effective strategy of not-talking about it, which leads to not-knowing about it. This practice, I suggest is critical for the subjective security of settlers, and it remains a crucial strategy in ongoing practices of quotidian colonization. My analysis emanates from a critically reflexive exploration of my memories, of what I know and what I do not know about the history of the farm I grew up on, and demonstrates that autoethnography as a methodology is particularly useful for interrogating and breaking the silences about colonization that contribute to its perpetuation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
18 pages, 228 KiB  
Article
Composting Layers of Christchurch History
by Rebecca Ream
Genealogy 2021, 5(3), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5030074 - 16 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1601
Abstract
This is a poetic compost story. It is a situated tale of how I gradually began to shred my fantasy of being a self-contained responsible individual so I could become a more fruitful response-able Pākehā (for the purposes of this paper, a descendant [...] Read more.
This is a poetic compost story. It is a situated tale of how I gradually began to shred my fantasy of being a self-contained responsible individual so I could become a more fruitful response-able Pākehā (for the purposes of this paper, a descendant of colonial settlers or colonial settler) from Christchurch (the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand), Aotearoa (The Māori (the Indigenous people of New Zealand) name for New Zealand) New Zealand. Poetic compost storying is a way for me to turn over Donna Haraway’s composting ethico-onto-epistemology with critical family history and critical autoethnography methodologies. To this end, I, in this piece, trace how I foolishly believed that I could separate myself from my colonial family and history only to find that I was reinscribing Western fantasies of transcendence. I learnt by composting, rather than trying to escape my past, that I could become a more response-able Pākehā and family member. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
16 pages, 256 KiB  
Article
War People: Punitive Raids, Democracy and the White Family in Australia
by Paula Jane Byrne
Genealogy 2020, 4(4), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4040101 - 14 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2947
Abstract
Apart from descriptions of ideas of race, Australian historiography has not perceived acts of violence to Aboriginal people in their wider social and political context. Analysis of perpetrators has derived from family histories but this, so far, has been limited to studies of [...] Read more.
Apart from descriptions of ideas of race, Australian historiography has not perceived acts of violence to Aboriginal people in their wider social and political context. Analysis of perpetrators has derived from family histories but this, so far, has been limited to studies of emotion. One family’s and one area’s experience of frontier violence shows that it was thought about in terms of ‘volunteering’ and democratic participation. The new technology of the telegraph brought violence and its description closer and ‘brave’ and ‘gallant’ men sought to involve themselves in war. They also recognized political divisions among Aboriginal people and negotiated a complex realm of ‘friendly blacks’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
12 pages, 260 KiB  
Article
A Tale of Two Stories: Unsettling a Settler Family’s History in Aotearoa New Zealand
by Richard Shaw
Genealogy 2021, 5(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5010026 - 23 Mar 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 5587
Abstract
On the morning of the 5 November 1881, my great-grandfather stood alongside 1588 other military men, waiting to commence the invasion of Parihaka pā, home to the great pacifist leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi and their people. Having contributed to [...] Read more.
On the morning of the 5 November 1881, my great-grandfather stood alongside 1588 other military men, waiting to commence the invasion of Parihaka pā, home to the great pacifist leaders Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi and their people. Having contributed to the military campaign against the pā, he returned some years later as part of the agricultural campaign to complete the alienation of Taranaki iwi from their land in Aotearoa New Zealand. None of this detail appears in any of the stories I was raised with. I grew up Pākehā (i.e., a descendant of people who came to Aotearoa from Europe as part of the process of colonisation) and so my stories tend to conform to orthodox settler narratives of ‘success, inevitability, and rights of belonging’. This article is an attempt to right that wrong. In it, I draw on insights from the critical family history literature to explain the nature, purposes and effects of the (non)narration of my great-grandfather’s participation in the military invasion of Parihaka in late 1881. On the basis of a more historically comprehensive and contextualised account of the acquisition of three family farms, I also explore how the control of land taken from others underpinned the creation of new settler subjectivities and created various forms of privilege that have flowed down through the generations. Family histories shape the ways in which we make sense of and locate ourselves in the places we live, and those of us whose roots reach back to the destructive practices of colonisation have a particular responsibility to ensure that such narratives do not conform to comfortable type. This article is an attempt to unsettle my settler family narrative. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
14 pages, 210 KiB  
Article
Re-Turning to the Event of Colonisation in New South Wales
by Bronwyn Davies
Genealogy 2021, 5(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5010002 - 28 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1859
Abstract
In this paper, I re-turn to the event of colonisation in New South Wales. I draw on the journal of my ancestor, David Collins, who came to New South Wales on the First Fleet in 1788 to take up the position of the [...] Read more.
In this paper, I re-turn to the event of colonisation in New South Wales. I draw on the journal of my ancestor, David Collins, who came to New South Wales on the First Fleet in 1788 to take up the position of the colony’s Judge Advocate and Secretary to Governor Phillip. Drawing on Collins’ account of the first years of the colony, I contemplate the difficult interface between the Indigenous civilisation that existed in New South Wales prior to the event of colonisation, and the British newcomers’ civilisation as it was thought and practiced in those first years of the colony. That im/possible interface still reverberates in the present, implicating me as a 6th-generation newcomer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
16 pages, 284 KiB  
Article
Reading the Entrails: The Extractive Work of a Fence
by Sue Hall Pyke
Genealogy 2021, 5(4), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5040087 - 13 Oct 2021
Viewed by 2724
Abstract
This essay offers an evisceration of my troubled links to ‘cattle country’, seeking a truth-telling that responds to my mother’s romancing. I trace my family’s part in the cattle industry imposed upon Jiman Country and Wulli Wulli Country, drawing on stories populated with [...] Read more.
This essay offers an evisceration of my troubled links to ‘cattle country’, seeking a truth-telling that responds to my mother’s romancing. I trace my family’s part in the cattle industry imposed upon Jiman Country and Wulli Wulli Country, drawing on stories populated with the hooves of cattle, the flight of emus, and the stare of a goanna. I find myself in uncomfortable territory, complicit in the actions of my settler relatives in this region of Central Queensland, but to not examine this informal archive of possession feels like a lie. The stories that shape me begin with the tales of Mum’s foster-mother, my great-aunt, about the dreadful murderous harms done during the early settler occupation of Jiman Country. My family’s later deployment of this stolen land is a related act of war. I see a related mode of violence in tales of terrified cattle in nearby Wulli Wulli Country, Mum’s girl-self perched on the back of a weary horse, whip in her hand. In all this, there is me, telling tales, like settler writers before me, caught in the writing act, exposed as a fence, dealing in stolen goods, part of the ongoing posts of making up and wires of making do. Nonetheless, I take up my extractive blade, sharpened by a field trip to this region, and carve into my family history, with its legacy of generational violence to humans, cows, waterways, and earth, exposing three extractions: the near-genocidal murders of the Jiman and Wulli Wulli people; the ongoing slaughter of cattle; and finally, there, on the kill floor, entrails exposed, the stories of my mother, laid bare for this critical reading. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
10 pages, 255 KiB  
Article
Settler Colonial Structures of Domestication: British Home Children in Canada
by Morgan Brie Johnson
Genealogy 2021, 5(3), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5030078 - 31 Aug 2021
Viewed by 2525
Abstract
There has been a surge of research on Home Children in the past several decades, as the phenomenon previously unknown to many came into the spotlight. However, much of the historical research has focused on either the psychological and physical impacts on the [...] Read more.
There has been a surge of research on Home Children in the past several decades, as the phenomenon previously unknown to many came into the spotlight. However, much of the historical research has focused on either the psychological and physical impacts on the children at the hands of their new “families” (there were many reports of child abuse and neglect) or the ways they were saved from their poverty in Britain by being sent to the colonies. This article will put this existing historical research into conversation with theories of settler colonialism, considering Home Children as a tool of domestication for the social reproduction of Canadian white settler society, which was paired with the forced removal of Indigenous peoples from their lands. This analysis stems from and is intertwined with personal reflections on my own family history as a white settler woman descending from a Home Child to explore the gendered labour of social reproduction as a crucial pillar in creating and maintaining settler colonial Canada. Following Lorenzo Veracini’s argument that settler colonialism is a distinct structure that uses domestication as one of its key tenets and relies on its “regenerative capacity”, this paper will explore how British Home Children were a key component of settler colonialism in Canada and how this history has manifested in the current gendered, racialized, and classed politics of “settling”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
16 pages, 282 KiB  
Article
Revisiting Distant Relations
by Victoria Freeman
Genealogy 2021, 5(4), 86; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5040086 - 3 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2742
Abstract
In 2000, I published Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America, a non-fiction exploration of my own family’s involvement in North American colonialism from the 1600s to the present. This personal essay reflects on the context, genesis, process, and consequences of [...] Read more.
In 2000, I published Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America, a non-fiction exploration of my own family’s involvement in North American colonialism from the 1600s to the present. This personal essay reflects on the context, genesis, process, and consequences of writing this book during a decade of intense ferment in Indigenous–settler relations in Canada amid the revelations of horrific abuse at residential schools and the discovery that my highly respected grandfather had been involved with one. Considering the book from the perspective of 2021, I consider the strengths and limitations of this kind of critical family history and the degree to which public discourses and academic discussion of Canada’s history and settler complicity in colonialism have changed since the book was published. Arguing that critical reflection on family history is still an essential part of unlearning colonial attitudes and recognizing the systemic and structural ways that colonial disparities and processes are embedded in settler societies, I share a critical family history assignment that has been an essential and transformative pedagogical element in my university teaching for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
23 pages, 371 KiB  
Article
From the “Beginning”: Anglo-American Settler Colonialism in New England
by Ashley (Woody) Doane
Genealogy 2021, 5(4), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5040097 - 8 Nov 2021
Viewed by 4707
Abstract
In this article, I use the lens of critical family history—and the history of the Doane family—to undertake an analysis of Anglo-American settler colonialism in the New England region of the United States. My standpoint in writing this narrative is as a twelfth-generation [...] Read more.
In this article, I use the lens of critical family history—and the history of the Doane family—to undertake an analysis of Anglo-American settler colonialism in the New England region of the United States. My standpoint in writing this narrative is as a twelfth-generation descendant of Deacon John Doane, who arrived in Plymouth Colony circa 1630 and whose family history is intertwined with issues of settler colonial conquest and dispossession, enslavement, erasure, and the creation of myths of origin and possession. This analysis is also grounded in the larger contexts of the history of New England and the history of the United States. I conclude with a reflection upon the implications of settler colonial myths and historical erasure for current racial politics in the United States. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
23 pages, 318 KiB  
Article
Heather’s Homestead/Marotahei: The Invasion of the Waikato and Ways of Knowing Our Past in Aotearoa New Zealand
by Hugh Campbell and William Kainana Cuthers
Genealogy 2021, 5(4), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5040101 - 28 Nov 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3698
Abstract
The British invasion of the Māori region of the Waikato in 1863 was one of the most pivotal moments in the colonisation of Aotearoa New Zealand. It has been the subject of multiple authoritative histories and sits at the centre of historical discussions [...] Read more.
The British invasion of the Māori region of the Waikato in 1863 was one of the most pivotal moments in the colonisation of Aotearoa New Zealand. It has been the subject of multiple authoritative histories and sits at the centre of historical discussions of sovereignty, colonial politics and the dire consequences of colonisation. This article approaches this complex historical moment through the personal histories of a Māori/Pākehā homestead located at the political and geographic epicentre of the invasion. This mixed whanau/family provides the opportunity to explore a more kinship-based ontology of the invisible lines of influence that influenced particular actions before and during the invasion. It does so by mobilising two genealogical approaches, one by author Hugh Campbell which explores the British/Pākehā individuals involved in this family and uses formal documentation and wider historical writing to explain key dynamics—but also to expose a particular limitation of reliance on Western ontologies and formal documentation alone to explain histories of colonisation. In parallel to this approach, the other author—William Kainana Cuthers—uses both formal/Western and a Māori/Pasifika relational ontology of enquiry, and in doing so, allows both authors to open up a set of key insights into this pivotal moment in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand and into the micro-dynamics of colonisation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Critical Settler Family History)
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