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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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Family Memoirs in the Context of Auto/biographical Writing

Family Memoirs in the Context of Auto/biographical Writing

Mediating History, Promoting Collective Memory

(p.9) Chapter 2 Family Memoirs in the Context of Auto/biographical Writing
Relative Histories

Rocío G. Davis

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter examines family memoirs in the context of auto/biographical writing, with particular emphasis on the ways in which they mediate history and promote collective memory. It first considers relational life writing and how it challenges the fundamental paradigm of the unified self of traditional autobiography, along with the concept of monologic representation. It then discusses the process of the construction of the family memoir and challenges Georges Gusdorf's claim that a collective or community-oriented subject, with an “unconsciousness of personality, characteristic of primitive societies,” cannot produce “autobiography.” It argues that family memoirs, as relational texts, foreground the collective nature of memory and allow us to view changing perspectives on issues that govern identity politics. It also explains how Asian American family memoirs generally privilege interconnectedness as forms of developing autonomous selfhood and how they can be utilized as forms of historical mediation. The chapter concludes by emphasizing the role of the family memoir in the creation and sustenance of collective memory for Asian Americans.

Keywords:   family memoirs, collective memory, relational life, life writing, autobiography, Georges Gusdorf, identity politics, selfhood, historical mediation, Asian Americans

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