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childish objects \ Undo. Unravel. Go back, and further back still. Go home. (Are you my Mother?) for Boty Goodwin

1936 – 2013


performance document – identity documents: European Community United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Passport (expired); Canada Passport; Europäische Union Bundesrepublik Deutschland Reisepass; Carabbean Community Jamaica Passport.




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In 1936 my father’s German family of Lutheran mother and Jewish father, elder daughter and younger son left the Nazi occupation marking the beginning of a long trek out of Europe. The little family’s flight from home was precipitated by Rassenschande –miscegenation policies set in motion by the 1935 Nuremberg Laws which criminalized their love blind to faith boundaries. London 1941, the stateless father was granted British subjecthood to facilitate passage to the colonies. The family boarded an unnamed Dutch merchant ship to journey in convoy across the Atlantic to Halifax. The rejected vessel continued on to (then British) Guyana where the family boarded the Canadian steamship, Lady Drake, destined to the Barbados tropical paradise. They disembarked the steamship December 6, 1941, the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The parents never again spoke of war nor passed their German language to their children. Subsequent to the family’s safe arrival the Lady Drake was torpedoed by a German Uboat off the coast of Bermuda.


In 1957 my Bajan father and Jamaican mother arrived in Canada, both British subjects. In 1962, the year of my birth, Jamaica became independent of colonial rule. My parents became citizens of Canada. A child of indigenous islanders, colonials of the sugar industry, folks stolen from western Africa made slaves and merchant marines of southern Portugal, my Jamaican mother had not held a legal Jamaican identity.


In 1999 reformations to German citizenship law, granted entitlement to those who had lost their German identities either through revocation or flight from Nazi party persecution. The lost citizens were invited to repatriate and their descendants invited to participate in German society by way of naturalization. In 2000, I submitted to a lengthy process of ancestral document retrieval to prove my linage. I contextualized my negotiation of the German bureaucracy as a performance of entitlement and forgiveness. In 2010, I became a naturalized citizen of Germany. In 2011, I was granted my first German passport. I first used this passport in transit to Sudan to research displacement and trauma associated with the colonial project.


In 2008, I initiated an application for Jamaica citizenship by descent. In 2012, I became a Jamaican citizen. In 2013, I was granted my first Jamaica passport. I continue to research colonialisms, imperialist practices, traumatic memory and self-determination.


I am indebted to Boty Goodwin (1966-1995), from whom I acquired a Jeep Cherokee and a British passport, whose own tragic story introduced to me this search for belonging. Undo. Unravel. Go back, and further back still. Go home. (Are you my Mother?)


nichola feldman-kiss ©2014

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