Interracial genealogies and memories of slavery
(University of Exeter)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores how the narration of slave histories, ancestries and memories come together in the genealogical and autobiographical accounts of members of mixed-race families.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores how the narration of slave histories, ancestries and memories come together in the genealogical and autobiographical accounts of members of mixed-race families. To do this, I draw upon my recent anthropological study with members of mixed-families of white and black African Caribbean British descent. I am interested in the role played by the creative remembering and appropriation of slave histories and ancestries in the weaving of genealogical accounts about who 'we' are, where 'we' come from and how 'we' are connected in the postcolonial present. In so doing, I draw on the 'new' kinship studies within anthropology and sociological work on 'race', diaspora and genealogy to analyse how images and scripts of the slave past can be put to work to confront racism through the making and breaking of relationships across colour-lines. In this way, my work shows how the idioms of genealogy, such as ancestry, origins, inheritance, biology and culture have the potential both to reinforce and destabilise ideas about the constitution of racial identity. My account reveals how the theoretical lens of genealogy illuminates the slippages and chains of transactions between poetics and politics, memory and history, the colonial and the postcolonial, autobiography and wider social critique, the biological and the social, and nation and diaspora within British mixed-raced genealogical imaginations.
Social transformation in the United Kingdom: appropriation, class and identity