Family History Network – June Meeting

Following interest from the NZHA conference last November, a group of people with interests in Family History research has been formed.

The June meeting of the Family History Network is on Wednesday, 1st June, 12-1pm, via zoom

Rebecca Ream and Esther Fitzpatrick will present their research, followed by group discussion 

Ethics and the ‘critical’ in critical family history 

The ‘critical’ in critical family history (CFH) attends to the ethics of writing family history stories by drawing on critical theory. Even though critical theory — for example feminism or Marxism — can be expressed fairly impersonally, CFH opens up the possibility of writing from an intimate perspective given the personal nature of familial history research. In this context CFH offers ways of acknowledging one’s own positionality whilst also considering the context in which families come from, a process that inevitably compels researchers to explore the economic, political, social (micro and macro) situations that inflects a family’s story. Drawing on criticality in family history work far from solves the ethical dilemmas that can arise but is able to highlight the intricacy of such problems and pose them as topics of inquiry. A potent way in which we researchers could maintain this kind of complexity is from a position of noninnocence (Haraway, 2016). Noninnocence is a practice that disrupts the binary between feelings of guilt or innocence and rather ascribes us (researchers and subjects alike) all as noninnocent, never innocent but neither guilty either. We think this position is particularly useful as colonial settler researchers working towards a decolonised future. For one, noninnocence may help us to engage with Māori family histories that live(d) alongside our own but without the desire for innocence or narcissistic lapses into guilt. Such practice holds the possibility of keeping our settler voices unsettled, key, we think, to the critical in CFH work.

About the presenters 

Dr Rebecca Ream is an early career researcher interested in, among other things, Pākehā response-ability and the way in which that may be understood from within critical autoethnographic and critical family history practice. Their/her theoretical interests include Donna Haraway’s naturecultures, Karen Barad’s diffraction and Jacques Derrida’s hauntology. 

Dr Esther Fitzpatrick is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland. She uses various critical innovative pedagogies, including writing as a method of inquiry, in her teaching and research. She has published on issues of racial-ethnic identity, Pākehā identity, neoliberal impacts on academic identity, critical family history, critical autoethnography and arts-based methodologies. Her current research explores emerging identities in postcolonial societies, and ‘culturally responsive pedagogy’ in practice.