Probable Women: Black Southern Matrilineality and the Genelogical Archive

Ink on Canvas, Wood; New York, USA, 2019

Probable Women: Black Southern Matrilineality and the Genealogical Archive examines the impact of patrilineal genealogical archives and archival tools of practice on black maternal histories in the deep south. It exposes blind spots in the archive and explores a remedy to the fallacies of the historical focus on maleness and its inherent suppression of female lineages. The method of evaluating a circumvention of the archive is through the transformational potential of machine learning. By examining the first forty years of the United States Federal Census data from the postbellum state of Georgia, an algorithmic clustering model isolates attributes of the archive that pertain to black female histories. This concept is encapsulated as a collection of written portraits and data visualizations organized by a multi-dimensional classification scheme facilitated by the machine. This thesis asserts that this ontology establishes an intersection between the Census and the individuals situated within it that reconstructs matrilineal discontinuities and brings prominence to an underrepresented class.