ՀՈԳ ՏԱՆԻԼ AS BRINGING SPIRITLegacies of relational ontologies and ethics of care by diasporic women & queer folks from the SWANA region
This research illuminates legacies of relational ontologies and ethics of care through the experiences of women and queer folks from the South West Asian, North African (SWANA) diaspora and living in settler environments.
Through performative ethnography, arts-based, and indigenous methodologies, the study will center their lived experiences and ancestral memory as expressed through ritual, relationality, performance, and aesthetics. As primary researcher and project facilitator, my approach is grounded in an experimental praxis that blends autohistoria-teoría (Anzaldúa, 1987) and biomythography (Lorde, 1982). As such, this inquiry explores the extent to which participants desire to maintain pieces of indigenous and emergent SWANA traditions, ancestral reclamation and memory; in how they are understood as crucial parts of the resistance and transformation of imposing hegemonic colonial capitalist paradigms. The ontological locus of this study is explored through the primary researcher’s lens of an indigenous Armenian concept called հոգ տանիլ (hok danil), defined as bringing care or bringing spirit. Hok danil is central to this research in how it orients relations of collective care as kinship, as in the act of caring for an-other – which includes, but is not limited to children, elders, communities, spirits, land, ancestral memory, and one’s interrelated self. In contrast to mainstream notions of care that are rooted in independent selfways (Adams, et. al., 2017), hok danil relies on interdependence and collective care, which may offer the potential to disrupt the co-optation, exploitation, and institutionalization effectuated by systemic patriarchy, capitalism, and coloniality within relational formations. Although hok danil emerges from the primary researcher’s indigenous Armenian framework and guides their contributions to this project, a significant part of this research will invoke concepts and practices of relations of care as brought forth by the participants and their varying cultural epistemologies. Moreover, this study seeks to better understand and contextualize the strategies of women and queers from the SWANA region as they re-create and re-claim ancestral practices from the axis of their particular decolonial positionalities. In alignment with SWANA epistemology, a set of methodological strategies that blend soliloquy and dialogue, performance, art-making, and divination are explored. By way of these strategies, this research acknowledges that relational ontologies are central and culturally embedded in SWANA practices and traditions. For this reason, its reclamation within settler environments is one of the many ways that decoloniality takes shape.
Keywords: Relational Ontologies, Collective Care, Ancestral Reclamation, Decolonial Praxis, Diasporic Theory, Arts-Based Methodologies