Stout research centre seminar series – talk by Professor Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich (Wellington, 3 April 2019)

Head along to the next talk in the Stout Research Centre’s Family Seminar Series:

Trauma, memory, wartime and post-war stories.  Changing the family narrative.

Family memory is something we seldom pick apart ourselves. It exists all around us and draws us into our place as children, parents, grandparents, cousins, in-laws and even wider family circles.

This seminar presents research on a post-war German refugee family from the perspective of members of my own family. Early in the process of listening to their stories of violence, war, politics and grief, my perspectives started to change. A family focus-group interview, designed as a starting point for an oral history, became a defining moment of an unravelling story. An uncomfortable task began: re-working the family narrative required a new narrative structure, one which could do justice to the family experience of trauma, loss of life, flight and new beginnings. While on the surface this is a story of a very normal German refugee family, it is also an exploration of big questions about how families dealt with the second world war, how they produced significant silences, and how they remained unable to produce narratives that were not focussed on collective guilt and historical shame. At the heart of this seminar lies the question: how is trauma woven into memories when people are meant to carry a collective narrative of guilt?

About the speaker:

Prof. Brigitte Bönisch-Brednich is a member of the Cultural Anthropology Programme at Victoria University. Her main research interests are narrative analysis and migration studies. She is especially interested how people construct and develop migration stories and how academics then use and write about migration narratives.

Date: Wednesday 3 April 2019

Time: 4.10 p.m; tea and coffee at 3.45 p.m.

Location: Stout Research Centre Seminar Room, 12 Waiteata Road, Kelburn Campus