The Cassowary Project is a grassroots research project investigating themes of place, identity, and history, based mostly in Manchester, UK.
The project is run by Sylvia Kölling and Kim Foale. We started this project blog to document our own research, and release some of our thought processes and findings. We are currently working on two projects, one based in Hulme, Manchester and one that's an attempt to create a history of social organising from the 1960s to today.
The name comes from a flightless bird home to the forests of New Guinea (and surrounding islands) as well as Northern Australia. What's interesting to us about this beautiful bird is that for a long time, its mating behaviour has been misunderstood by ornithologists. In true human-centric fashion, it was assumed that the females would be "conquered" by the males and that mating would be steered by the males as well. That, and a non-recognition of the relationships males have with each other. In fact, some of the early ornithologists completely misgendered the birds.
What does this have to do with place, identity and history? Well, Cassowaries highlight some of the problems we have when talking about both identity, politics, and the past. We can only go on what we know, what we can observe around us, and things we can find about the past. Reading about the past requires understanding the past: terms, concepts, ideas, and identities change in meaning and influence as the world changes, and this reading of history is often ignored in contemporary analyses. The humble Cassowary doesn't care what we call it or think of it: and yet humans have created a web of lore and identity around them that says more about us than them.
We hope that you will come on some of the journey with us to explore the world around us and understand some of how we got here.
This post is a placeholder for now, we will explain more as we go along!
Pictures from Wikipedia.