reclaiming our ancestors

‘Western’ is increasingly used as synonym for rationalist and mechanistic worldviews, and yet these became dominant only in recent European history. According to scholar Silvia Federici and writer Amitav Ghosh, the narratives upheld by European elites to justify systemic violence and oppression, both inherent to imperialism and the witch hunts, were inextricably linked with the rise of capitalism and industrialisation. The attempt at erasing BIPOC [Black and Indigenous People Of Colour] communities and controlling their lands occurred in conjunction with the suppression of peasant revolts, the enclosure of commons, the institutionalisation of community health and the medicalisation of birth and female health. 

Heretics of sort. The defiant, the disobedient. Leaders of peasant revolts. Knowledge holders. Land guardians. Local healers, herbalists, midwifes. They are our ancestors. We know close to nothing about them, and yet what we do know points to a way of seeing the world radically different from that of the elites they were being oppressed by. In family constellations – developed by Bert Hellinger out of his encounter with Zulu cosmology, psychoanalytical training and Moreno’s psychodrama- partakers are invited to ceremonially acknowledge a relative, often long gone and forgotten, who was abused or estranged in the family. Participants swear by such practice and the shifts that it triggered in their life and family circle. Reclaiming those ancestors appears to hold remarkable potential for healing.

I proposes collective mourning and acknowledgement of our ‘inconvenient’ ancestors as a radical act of reclamation of alternative ways to dominant structures of capitalism, inequality and oppression. What is the potential concealed in reclaiming the memory, legacy and knowledge of those ancestors who were sacrificed in the name of state and church control, and rising capitalism? What practices may assist us in this process, both at the individual and local level, and a collective and international one?

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