Reverberations of the Armenian Genocide
Narrative’s intergenerational transmission and the task of not forgetting
Narrative research has not traditionally examined the intergenerational transmission and reverberation of narratives within ethnic communities, and yet it is through the chain of generations that voices of the past reverberate and testimonies endure which fuel and form present day notions of the past. This article is a call for and an example of the importance ethnographic investigation into communities of memories, for it is through community storytelling that records are set straight as a memorial for victims and survivors. This line of inquiry is pertinent to various communities throughout the world, as we come to see the role of language, and in particular, narrative in the formation of ideas and conflicts, as scholars such as Slyomovics, (1998) have pointed out. This research takes as its point of departure narrative renditions of the Armenian genocide recounted in both public and private venues by the great-grandchildren of genocide survivors in an ethnic enclave in Central California. In this diasporic community we see how communities of memory are formed in a space of mediation which links the new generation with the old, the present with its past as well as with its imagined communities (Anderson, 1983). Through examination of the linguistic reverberations of this historical and familial narrative, I ask what becomes of authorship when collected stories are salient enough to be included in one’s own personal history, and how these narrativizations contribute to one’s sense of self? These questions are answered both by linguistic analysis of pronouns and deixis, as well as through analysis of prevalent themes. The results of this research lend into the historical progression of memory through time by those who did not experience the trauma, but rather were witnesses by listening to the trauma of others.
Keywords: collective memory, ethnic identity, intergenerational transmission, commemoration
Published online: 11 October 2010
Cited by 16 other publications
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