“With archaeology we stake our claim to the future by finding our past.” When I first began to think about what medium I would use and what type of project I would create for this assignment, I wondered how I could interpret this statement using the focus on my research and the field in which I work, ethnic and cultural Studies. Similar to archeology, ethnic and cultural studies focuses on uncovering the past as a means of understanding the present as well as looking forward towards the future. My research focus is on mixed race and interracial/intercultural relationships and other forms of interaction in daily life. Much work has been done as to researching the historical origins of mixed race communities such as the Filipino-Mexican Americans and Punjabi-Mexican Americans along the US-Mexico border. My research scope, however, is larger than this and seeks to push current understandings of mixed race beyond the notions that it was simply a historical phenomenon in certain regions of the US or a response to the anti-miscegenation laws barring Blacks and Whites from marriage in the Southern US. My project is two-fold – it includes an example of a family tree of a mixed heritage family, using my family as an example as a means of understanding the contemporary “phenomenon” of mixed race youth as evidenced by the 2000 Census. In relation to the statement above, the family tree, which traces back three generations of my family, is supplemented by two photographs of my grandparents in their native lands, together with their spouses. These photographs, when I first found them were damaged and torn, difficult to see or even make out who the individuals in the photographs were. After re-touching them on Photoshop, I now have two previously undecipherable photographs that can be used to better understand the legacy of mixed race families and its intersection with the immigrant American experience with origins in war, economic downturn and a constant pursuit of the so-called American Dream. By understanding the past, not only through names and histories, but supplementing these names and histories with actual photographs from the turn of the century, I hope to help individuals better understand the legacy of race and mixed race in America today. Furthermore, while my project does not speak necessarily to archeology per se, I see it as relating to the work done in archeology in the sense that it seeks to better clarify and understand the past as a means of understanding the present. It is my hope that this emphasis on the past as a means of deciphering the future is evident in the project I present here through my family tree and two re-mediated photographs will argue this point as well. Lastly, I also hope that the tools and skills I learn in this course can be applied not only to archeology, but also to related fields such as cultural and ethnic studies and women and gender studies and in doing so, enhance the work done in all related fields through the increased use of the visual and digital media. The premise of the course, that media and visual methods are a viable means of research is one that I hope spreads to other fields in academia and reinforces the current work being done in those fields, but can as Pink argues, stand alone as its own form of valuable information and research data, not needing to be supplemented or used in conjunction with other “traditional” research methods.
I went there!