„Where are you from?
Where are you really from?
I mean where is your family from?“
My proposed PhD research “Ancestral Junctures” deals with how mythologies of ancestry and heritage are constructed through the ascription of dominant society, family histories or alternative ancestral lineages. Who defines a supposed ancestry? What information is used to justify it? Which individuals or groups are allowed to be a part of such narratives? How does one align oneself within certain ancestral lineages and what is their necessity for collective and individual subject constructions?
The question „Where are you really from?“ serves as the starting point of the research. The constant confrontation of as Other-assigned individuals with this question can be perceived as an externally imposed Othering (Reuter 2011) – as „not belonging“ in a societal construct. These mythologies of ancestry and heritage imposed from the „outside“ do not only place people in other geographical regions or religious communities, they also overlay them with projections of supposed „cultural otherness“. The constant reference to one’s own speculated heritage forces the Othered person into a continuous examination of their own histories and positionings in societal relations.
The implications of such ascriptions can vary greatly in their individual psychological or collective socio-political effects. But it is precisely this circumstance that a myth of ancestry can simultaneously offer a certain orientation while at the same time opening up the space for a constructed togetherness or belonging – even serve as a survival strategy and actively empower oneself with one’s own mythologies, contrary to the ascription of others.
Along the conceptualisations of intersubjective ancestral-lineages, this research attempts to explore multiple possibilities of reconstruction of and alignment within heritage-narratives through an auto-ethnographic observation.