Painting of a black woman crying by Grace-Lynn Bridges

An Ethnography of Racial Trauma

Undergraduate Researcher-Artist Explores Slavery, Race, and the Narratives Surrounding the Black Body

Through ethnographic interviews with Black mothers and archival research, my hope is to bear witness to the voices that have been drowned out and turned into statistics. - from the Abstract of "Into My Mother's Womb: The Violence of Narration

Grace-Lynn Bridges '21 is a researcher, a storyteller, a poet and a painter. Her honors thesis, an ethnographic project around issues of slavery, race, and the narratives surrounding the black body, draws upon all of those skills.

There is urgency in her research, conveyed even in her abstract: "For centuries, Black families have had to navigate an extremely violent America. This research project posits to understand just how parents teach or do not teach their children to circumvent societal strain and trauma."

In addition to ethnographic interviews and archival research on slave narratives, Bridges' own  paintings and poetry serve as commentaries on and response to the political, social, and cultural dimensions of her findings.

The resulting document, Into My Mother's Womb: The Violence of Narration, is a tapestry of original ethnography, archival research, lyric and lamentation, psalms and prophets, illustrated by original paintings: a Black Pietà, the birth of the world, bodies, tears. 

What writing methods does one employ to begin to see the slave, the outsider, the foreigner, those transformed into commodities, property, and statistics? Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, rings loud in the back of my head as I pray for revelation. -Into My Mother's Womb

Bridges received her BA in psychology with a minor in anthropology this spring. Her thesis, written as part of the MURALS program, received honorable mention for the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research. She will remain at UC Davis as a doctoral student in Socio-Cultural Anthropology.


In Undergraduate Education we champion the upcoming generation of researchers, scholars, and creatives who bring their diverse perspectives to address society's most urgent problems. As we honor Juneteenth, we acknowledge the work that remains to dismantle the persistent structures of racism and violence. We celebrate the research and creative work of anthropology student Grace-Lynn Bridges '21, whose extraordinary ethnography, archival research, and original paintings and poetry weave a unique and powerful narrative.