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AfriGeneas World Research Forum

Re: Researching Mulatto Ancestors

"this discussion also brings to mind the rather unique aspect of African-American family research: that we are able to trace our lineage mainly through our maternal lines, seldom learning as much with certainly about our paternal ancestors. This pattern, of course, runs somewhat contrary to traditional genealogical practices, whereby a family's history is told predominantly through the fathers' histories. This, in itself, might be an interesting topic for discussion on this forum, illustrating (and validating) the rather hybrid nature of African-American genealogy. "


You raise a crucial point here, and one that certainly comes into play in the checkered history of those of mixed heritage, since the chances of supression of paternal identity become even greater if paternity is attached to liaisons not sanctioned by family, community or by law.

I often wish that we in the US had adopted Spanish naming patterns - where at least the maiden name is preserved (ex: Diego y Rivera)
The patrilineal structure of genealogical research here (even the software is awkward to use when dealing with unknown fathers)also creates a tension for the researcher of yet again "not fitting in".

It would be so much simpler if we used the West African kinship formulae of "mo-bro" (mother's brother) as the male figure of primary importance. Many of us know our fore-mother's brothers - but may never ever identify those ancestral father's. If we were to accept mo-bro as the paternal figure (as opposed to a genetic ancestor) we might actually become more healthy psychologically.

Thanks for your thoughtful post,


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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