When Research is Personal

It’s been a long while since I updated this blog. Life has been busy with graduation, life changes and such but I’ve now found the motivation I needed to jump back into my research.

I’ve been thinking a lot about feelings and emotions.  I had a conversation with a Chinese-Canadian who previously worked in the Vancouver archives and he told me about how difficult it was for him to do archival work on his own people for several reasons. It was clear from talking with him that research can be incredibly emotional and I’ve already found this to be so .This project is quite personal in many ways to me as I attempt to connect with my nation’s history, especially being so distant from place of origin. Recently I reread Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon”, and in that the male protagonist, Milkman, goes on a journey to discover his family’s history in an attempt to figure himself out too. Of course Milkman is looking at his family history while I’m looking at my nation’s history, but in a sense we’re looking for the same thing, and we realize that an understanding of the past is important in order to move forward and to situate oneself in the present.

This project is also personal because one of the people who supported me, my Uncle O., died almost a year ago. Although I don’t think he was really passionate about history, he knew how important this project was to me and he supported my aspirations, both with a listening ear and also with materials that could help me with my research. I’m so grateful to him and more than a little bit sad that he will never know how my final project turns out. He had faith in me and never questioned my abilities. Having someone to support one’s goals isn’t something we all have so I’m so grateful.