Family: Reinterpreting the Personal Archive

Family: Reinterpreting the Personal Archive


Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University



10 hours



The web of family has been a constant source of inspiration for artists and documentarians. Folklore, oral storytelling, and material objects are passed down from generation to generation. Language transforms as families migrate and relocate to urban, suburban, and rural settings. Much of the time, photo albums are tucked away in basements or drawers and remain untouched.

In this workshop, we’ll look at examples of family documentary as new and seasoned family researchers embark on their own investigations. Informed by group discussion, students will use writing, photography, physical objects, and other media from their personal archive to create new interpretations. We will look at buried family history, disruptions in timelines, and geographies of movement, allowing for questions surrounding ethical practice, expanding notions of family, and the role of ancestral DNA.


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