AbstractsBiology & Animal Science

Lifelines : matrilineal narratives, memory and identity

by Hourig. Attarian

Institution: McGill University
Department: Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
Degree: PhD
Year: 2009
Keywords: Armenians.; Armenians  – Foreign countries  – Biography.; Autobiography  – Women authors.; Matrilineal kinship.
Record ID: 1854391
Full text PDF: http://digitool.library.mcgill.ca/thesisfile115621.pdf


This inquiry explores matrilineal autobiographical narratives in the contexts of family stories and memories. This self-study traces the stories of a collective of five women of a common Armenian heritage, who represent various generational, homeland and diasporic portraits and experiences. Carrying the burden of being descendants of genocide survivors, the memories we reconstruct and interpret deal with issues of inherited exile, dispossession, loss, trauma, survival and healing. In exploring these narratives, I engage in self-reflexivity as we construct, re-construct, re-present our narratives and their impact on our constructions and negotiations of self and identity. I use the family album metaphor as a foundation for my narrative framework and weave together the participants' and my autobiographical reconstructions through the intertwined stories of memory, trauma and displacement. The self-reflexive nature of our multilayered autobiographical narratives reconnects our selves with our pasts. Within a diasporic frame, I use the narratives as interpretive tools to explore the effects of multigenerational diasporic experiences on constructions of identity and agency. The relationships we develop using face-to-face group conversations, virtual discussions through a Web forum and emails, personal reflexive journals, photo props and collaged images, highlight a dialogic process of imagined possibilities for the transformative power of storying. The autobiographical inquiry bridges voice to self and self to voice. This authoring process is an essential medium to writing ourselves as women. The process also allows us to reclaim our vulnerabilities as sources of inner strength and to embrace this understanding as the locus of writing.