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Do I dare to know myself as a river? A pilgrimage inquiry into Motherlines and embodiment

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Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
In this dissertation, I explore my journey to bodily inhabiting in the context of personal and intergenerational fear and loss. Over eight years, I undertook practices of singing, walking, dancing, poetic and narrative writing, historical research, and ancestral sojourns as inspiriting embodied inquiries (Aoki, 2005; Snowber, 2016). The inquiries described here are psychic and physical pilgrimages towards a bodily sense of home. I pursue this inquiry as a woman of European descent living as a settler in North America/Turtle Island, specifically in unceded Coast Salish territories (the Lower Mainland of British Columbia). In exploring bodily inhabiting, I track arcs of my somatic experiences and constrictions in poetry and narrative, evoking possible traces of early life as well as prenatal and intergenerational memory. I sing songs from my mother, and excavate narratives of my maternal lineage as well as other female ancestors through lyrical writing and historical research, informed by Lowinsky's theory of Motherlines (1990, 1992) and Ettinger's theory of the matrixial (2004, 2006a, 2006b). I trace moments and practices of earth-based encounter, including singing at the Burrard Inlet (also known as səl̓ilw̓ət) in Coast Salish territories (Vancouver) and walks in ancestral places and sacred sites in Ireland, France, and Germany, delving into how interactions between my body and the land evoke memory and offer teachings around bodily inhabiting and relationality. I explore embodiment as an intersubjective phenomenon, drawing on the works of feminist theorists, somatic practitioners and psychologists, Indigenous scholars, phenomenological scholars, and arts-based researchers. Informed and inspired by various performative and embodied approaches, this pilgrimage of storying walks and dances in in-between spaces and thin places where ways of being in inquiry spiral with one another. Drawing on inner imagery and my lived relationship with specific waters, I trace my journey towards living in the river flow of embodied consciousness in the context of encounters with echoing historical traces-- what may be water-memories from womb, infancy, intergenerational, collective, and primordial echoes. Throughout this work, I explore how creative, somatic, and earth-based practices can be pathways to reverberating histories, disruptive knowledges, and inspirited bodily presence.
198 pages.
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Thesis advisor: Snowber, Celeste
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