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Relative HistoriesMediating History in Asian American Family Memoirs$
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Rocío G. Davis

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834586

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834586.001.0001

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Relatives and Histories

Relatives and Histories

(p.1) Chapter 1 Relatives and Histories
Relative Histories

Rocío G. Davis

University of Hawai'i Press

This book examines family memoirs, also called “multigenerational” or “intergenerational auto/biographies,” as a form of life writing among Asian Americans. Drawing on Asian American family memoirs written between 1980 and 2001, it investigates the intersection between the discourse, practice, and social function of life writing, history, and ethnic identity. More specifically, it considers the ways in which family memoirs expand the boundaries and function of life writing as they reexamine history and build community for oneself and one's ethnic group. The book also explores how and why Asian American writers select or develop particular auto/biographical forms to address specific concerns. It discusses the family memoir as a subgenre of auto/biography and locates its practice in current creative and critical debates. Finally, it analyzes family memoirs as a form of historical mediation for Asian Americans and the development of collective memory through these texts. It shows that the family memoir promotes a poetics of generational progression in which the writers engage the specificities of history and location for their relatives.

Keywords:   family memoirs, autobiographies, life writing, Asian Americans, ethnic identity, collective memory, historical mediation, relatives

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