1st Edition

Ethnic Subjectivity in Intergenerational Memory Narratives Politics of the Untold

By Mónika Fodor Copyright 2020
    298 Pages
    by Routledge

    298 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this interdisciplinary study, Mónika Fodor explores how intergenerational memory narratives embedded in the speaker’s own stories impact ethnic subjectivity construction.

    Working with thematically selected life experiences from interviews conducted with second- and late-generation European Americans, Fodor demonstrates how the storytellers position themselves in a range of social, cultural, and political discourses to claim or disclaim ethnicity as part of their subjectivity. Tying narrative content, structural, and performance analysis to the sociological and sociolinguistic concepts of "symbolic capital" and "investment," Fodor unpacks the changing levels of identifying with one’s ancestral ethnic heritage and its potential to carry meaning for late-generation descendants. In doing so, she reveals the shared features of identification among individuals through narrative meaning-making, which may be the basis of real or imagined, heterolocal discourse community formation and sustained ethnic subjectivity. The narrative analysis demonstrates how the cohesive force among members of the community is the shared knowledge of story frames and the personalized retelling of these.

    Ethnic Subjectivity in Intergenerational Memory Narratives draws on inherited, often moving, personal experiences that offers new insights into the so far largely unexplored terrain of the narrative structure of intergenerationally transferred memory retellings, that will be of great interest to students and scholars of ethnic studies, migration and identity studies.


    1 Conceptualizing Ethnic Subjectivity in Personal and Intergenerational Memory Narratives

    2 "I Just Feel Unique": Construction of the Ethnic Self in Intergenerational Memory Narratives

    3 "My Style of Being Ethnic": Assimilation Experiences Retold in Intergenerational Memory Narratives

    4 "History Got in the Way": Constructing a Sense of History in Intergenerational Memory Narratives

    5 "At Home There": Sites of Ethnic Subjectivity Construction in Intergenerational Memory Narratives

    6 Ethnography of an Imagined Discourse Community in Personal and Intergenerational Memory Narratives



    Mónika Fodor is Associate Professor in the Department of English Literatures and Cultures at the University of Pécs, Hungary.

    "An illuminating and original study of the ways postmemory affect Euro-American ethnic identities. Fodor interviews ordinary people with extraordinary stories of resilience and strength. Her discussion and analysis reveal the complex ways individuals identify with their ethnic heritage over more than one generation."

    Eleanor Ty, Professor of English, Wilfrid Laurier University

    "[In conclusion] this book is an important attempt to trace migration stories through second and late generation European Americans that reminds us of the ‘obligation to remember’ and the ‘fear of losing the fragile connection’ to the past."

    Narrative Inquiry

    "Fodor's work has a pivotal place in critical minority studies, ethnographies of transnational families and diasporic communities and studies of cultural citizenship."

    Hungarian Cultural Studies