Cara Louwman and Yuen Yee Li - two sisters-in-law – embarked on a journey to investigate their relationship with their ancestors and how to bring their family histories into their own lives.
Cara and Yuen Yee - two sisters-in-law
Cara's personal research was sparked by the heirlooms in her Dutch family. What did they mean to her ancestors? What do they mean to her now? Working with these and other artefacts resulted in a way of 'playing with her ancestors', a way to connect with the people who are no longer here.
For Yuen Yee the question was how to connect to both her Hong Kong-Chinese roots and her Dutch adopted roots without denying either. Because Yuen Yee did not have heirlooms to work with, her research took her along oral family histories and family and public documents.
Despite the obvious differences between their histories Cara and Yuen Yee were able to discern general patterns. Neither of the families had a point of origin and neither of the families belonged to one specific place. Both families had been moving from one place to another, either within or across borders.
I N O C U L A T I O N O F R O O T S
Cara and Yuen Yee are also family. This book is therefore not about two separate processes of rooting and becoming roots.
That is why, next to their own way of bringing their roots to the lived present, they interpreted each other's work: Cara by photographing Yuen Yee's family photographs, and Yuen Yee by interpreting Cara's work through words. Through their bond, they give rise to the merging of families, the inoculation of roots, fortifying them.
Doing so they recognized how they embody their ancestors, forging a living connection with the people who came before them.