Songs of Existence: Sons of Freedom Doukhobors Within Time




Berikoff, Ahna

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The aspiration of this work was a call for justice for the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors - past, present and future. Sharing a Sons of Freedom identity, I worked within heritage; a heritage with deep cultural and spiritual roots that has encountered and responded to injustices through resistance and eventual assimilation into Canadian society. Justice as the primary motivation of this study is contingent upon hospitality or in the same breath deconstruction, derived from the work of Jacques Derrida and John Caputo. Hospitality is the theoretical, ethical and methodological pulse of this study and made possible a collective re-contextualizing of identity. Hospitality is an open and excessive welcome principled upon unconditional inclusion yet faced with an inevitable interplay of exclusion in all inclusion. The parameters of this study situated within the context of a Sons of Freedom heritage determined the welcome - although broad - was also specific and conditional. Working within an ethic of hospitality involved working with others in co-created relational spaces. Being in shared spaces generated memories, stories, songs and perspectives impassioned by sadness, anger, hope, ideas and intentions to sustain and keep identity on the move. The role of researcher and participant, or host and guest, was often disrupted as the roles became interchangeable. The blurred roles fostered spaces of sharing, trust, care and a sense of togetherness that “We are in this together.” Walking-alongside became a creative site for mobilizing counter narratives and critical interpretations to re-represent identity and on-going becoming. Justice, key to deconstruction and to this study, opened up the possibility of claiming identity as opposed to escaping or being burdened with an identity laden with stigma and shame.



Deconstruction, Hospitality, Reclamation of identity, Marginalization, Heritage