PAPER SESSION 5 - THURSDAY 26/8, 9–11pm (UTC +8)
P5.3 – Disaster and Trauma
Hasmik Grigoryan (USA) The Mechanisms of Intergenerational Transmission of Memory: Remembering the Armenian Genocide through Oral Stories
The current research primarily looks at the mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of trauma in the context of the “official memory politics” of the Armenian Genocide. It presents how the memory of Genocide affects family and social life of the second and third generations, shapes their worldview and identity, the depth of its transmission and breadth of its manifestation in the “present”. The research mainly covers current perceptions and interpretations amongst second and third generations of genocide survivors, who settled in Eastern Armenia.
The analysis of oral history interviews shows that the transfer of knowledge about the Armenian Genocide among the offspring of the Armenian Genocide survivors involves two complementary information channels: (a) social, through family and community by oral stories; and (b) institutional, through educational-cultural official discourse.
There are only a handful of research related to the intergenerational transmission of the Armenian Genocide memory and its impact on the second and third generations. Research articles and dissertations have been written and published mainly in Armenian Diaspora; however, the oral history methodology is very new in the Republic of Armenia and has its own unique characteristics.
Hasmik Grigoryan is a graduate student at Clark University, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She defended her first PhD in 2015. Hasmik Grigoryan is an author of the monograph The Masses and Mass Violence: Participation of Muslim Population of the Ottoman Empire in the Armenian Genocide.
Keywords: Armenia; memory; generation; genocide
Dace Bula (Latvia) Narratives of Co-Habitation and Sudden Estrangement: Flooding Experience in the Lower Daugava Neighborhoods
The paper will deal with the memories and narratives of the Daugava delta residents reporting on two major flooding events that have occurred during the last half century: the storms of November 1969 and January 2005. Narrators of about 50 flood stories that constitute the empirical material for the paper come from four urban neighborhoods located in the delta of the Daugava River which splits Riga, the capital of Latvia, into two parts. The four research sites, although differing is several aspects, are united by the shared waterscape of the river and the abundance of topics related to water in local narrative repertories. The paper will deal with the narratability of flood events as a common characteristic of natural disaster experience. Flood waters rapidly rise and rapidly recede yet they usually have lasting impact on the material world, and they live long lives in memory and narration. In the process of narrative meaning-making, the event of flooding becomes a fierce examination calling into question everything that constitutes a customary lived life. It is against the scene of chaos that normalcy, habitual and even mundane life-order acquires an unprecedented value.
Dace Bula is a narrative scholar who has studied oral narratives of a suburban fishing community since 1992. Currently, she is leading the project “Living Next to the Port: Eco-narratives, Local Histories and Environmental Activism in the Daugava Delta” (funded by the Latvian Council of Science).
Keywords: community narrative repertories; disaster memories; oral history and environment
Felicitas Söhner (Germany) Professional Expertise and its Perspective to Youth Welfare of the GDR – To Classify Settings and Motives
The concept “moral injury“ is commonly associated with injury of the soul during combat experiences and is a relatively new concept in the field of social sciences. Analysis revealed that indeed, moral injury can be a valuable interpretive tool for oral historians and interviewees but that it must be treated with some degree of caution (Napoli 2019). Therefore, it seems almost surprising, that moral injury has received very limited attention in the social historical science literature (Dombo et al., 2013).
While historians typically have considered the perspective of the former residents of East German children's homes more recently this project questions of professional settings and social, political and individual motives are brought to the fore. This contribution analyses perspectives of medical, psychological and educational practice in so-called special children's homes of the GDR. Historical political and cultural backgrounds are illuminated as well as questions of the reflected handling of contemporary witness narratives against the background of the concept of “moral injury“.
The analysis reveals some urgent but unanswered questions that are systematically addressed in the proposed contribution:
• Who actually testifies where, to whom, what exactly?
• Is the status of contemporary witnessing reserved for specific perspectives?
• Is it about concrete, everyday experiences or the general characterization of a system?
• How can the perspectivity and emotionality of contemporary witness narratives be used as opportunities for a controversial and critical analysis of GDR history?
• How can principles and concepts of political and historical education be put into practice?
It aims to gather and make available sources to enable to analyse the social, intellectual and cultural conditions that shaped the children's home system of the GDR. A key aim is to investigate the appropriateness of Oral History as a methodology for capturing memories, observations and insights that are rarely recorded in the scholarly literature of the field.
Felicitas Söhner attained her BA in the study of culture sciences and her MA in history and literature at the University of Hagen. She defended her dissertation “Oral History Project to Images of Self and Others in Silesia” in 2012. From 2012 to 2013, she was a scientific assistant at the Philosophical Institute, University of Passau, for an oral history project to build values in families. She then became a scientific assistant at the Institute of History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine, University of Ulm (2013-2015) and the University of Düsseldorf (since 2016). Her post-doctoral research work is an oral history project of the history of psychiatry in post-war Germany, 2015-2019.
Keywords: East German history; moral injury; social history; social welfare; trauma
Vinita Sinha (India) Silent Stories in Art: An Extension of Oral Histories
The written word is a dominant tool to record experiences, impressions and aspirations of mankind. It circulates amongst the literate and gathers acclaim. However, there do exist simultaneously, scores of silent histories in the voices of individuals and the community.
This paper is concerned with the reflections of trauma and dealings with it in the unspoken form of visual art and in the oral tradition of songs. The exuberant, resilient and subversive female voices found in narrative traditions of rural India serve to enrich the oral ethnographic register. My study includes women’s stories from the specific region of the State of Bihar in India.
Oral renditions with allegorical references to the experiences of oppression and expulsion have helped unearth silent histories and unravel stories of the forgotten ‘little heroes’. Women’s narratives comprising songs and poems that bear no authorial stamp often contribute to the formation of new alternative literatures. The power of the paintbrush, embroidered art and practice of songs from the cultural reservoir have enabled many slighted women to speak, subvert and win bitter battles of life.
The personal yet shared narratives that belong to the ‘little tradition’ help resurrect identities for the speaking voice. The personal stories of trauma that allow each member of the community to reference and negotiate with their own trauma and not look at it as an isolated and isolating experience become the site for analysis in this paper. It aims to focus on such personal narratives of trauma arising out of discrimination in private and personal lives of young and neglected women.
Such defeatist reveries and hopeful victories depicted on canvas or cloth, at times articulated in singing voices are the silent histories seeking attention of researchers to cognise them as oral history today.
Dr. Vinita Sinha teaches English at Indraprastha College for Women in the University of Delhi. Her areas of interest include Translation Studies and Oral Traditions. She is the Coordinator of the Translation Centre in her College. She has presented and published papers in the aforesaid areas at international levels.
Keywords: personal narratives; silent histories; subversive voices; trauma; visual art
Masaya Nemoto (Japan) Balancing Two Cultures: Lives of Atomic Bomb Survivors in the United States
This paper examines the relationship between migration and belonging through the case of survivors of atomic bomb living in the United States. In 1945 atomic bombs dropped by the United States destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. The survivors have suffered from scar, trauma, and radiation caused by the nuclear bombs until today. However, there are atomic bomb survivors who migrated to the United States from Japan after the World War II. Some moved to the United States for their career or marriage. Others were originally born in the United States as the second generation of Japanese-American but went to Japan before the war, and came back to the United States after the war. Those atomic bomb survivors in the United States built an organization to ask for medical support from the US government first and then Japanese national government because the United States rejected the support for its “enemy” in the past.
In this paper, I will explore the biographies of atomic bomb survivors living in the United Sates to consider their sense of belonging. First, I will briefly explain the background of atomic survivors living in the United States as well as the effects of atomic bomb. Second, I will describe survivors’ life stories while answering questions such as why they migrated from Japan to the United States and how they have lived in that country against which they “fought” in the past. Lastly, by drawing on the survivors’ life-stories and narratives, I will examine how they have changed their sense of belonging such as being a Japanese, an American, and/or a survivor from the atomic bombing by the United States.
Masaya Nemoto is currently a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) researcher at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan (Ph.D., Hitotsubashi University, 2013). He has received several fellowships and grants including a JSPS Research Fellowship for Young Scientists (2017-present) and a research grant from the Toyota Foundation (2012-2014).
Keywords: migration; sense of belonging; survivors of nuclear bomb; war