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Writing Against, Alongside and Beyond Memory

Lifewriting as Reflexive, Poststructuralist Feminist Research Practice

Marilyn Metta

Marilyn Metta is the cowinner of the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 2011 Qualitative Book Award.
Memory, embedded in our scripts of the past, inscribed in our bodies and reflected in the collective memory of every family, group and community, occupies one of the most controversial and contested sites over what constitutes legitimate knowledge-making.
Using a reflexive feminist research methodology, the author is involved with memory-work in creating three life narratives written in different narrative styles: her mother’s and father’s biographies and her own autobiography/autoethnography.
By exploring the intersections of race, gender, ethnicity and culture in the social and cultural constructions of identities in lifewriting, this book maps the underlying politics of storytelling and storymaking, and investigates the political, social, pedagogical and therapeutic implications of writing personal life narratives for feminist scholarship, research and practice.
As a Chinese-Australian woman engaging in reflexive, creative and imaginative lifewriting, the author hopes to create new spaces and add new voices to the small but emerging Asian Australian scholarly literature.

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Introduction .............................................................................................. 11 CHAPTER I An Ambivalent Conception Life narratives as research: Lifewriting as research methodology .......................................... 17 The place of ethnic minority women’s life writing in contemporary feminist research .............................................. 26 Women’s writings across difference: The politics of naming and positioning ethnic minority women’s writings ................... 37 Contemporary feminisms and the politics of difference: Gender, race, ethnicity, and spirituality ...................................... 47 Relational ethics in lifewriting ...................................................... 58 Memory and lifewriting ................................................................. 66 CHAPTER II The Umbilical of Life: The Triple Braid My story: A metamorphosis ......................................................... 73 My mother: The Empress Dowager who gave birth to me ....... 130 My papa: A silenced story of love ............................................. 155 CHAPTER III The Ambivalent Act of Doing Research: Reflexive and Feminist Research Methodologies Introduction: Struggles with positioning .................................. 165 Ways of doing research (I) .......................................................... 167 Ways of knowing .......................................................................... 178 Ways of writing: Understanding by writing ............................. 183 8 Ways of speaking ......................................................................... 192 Ways of being: The politics of identity, hybridity & spirituality ................................................................. 199 Ways of doing research (II) ........................................................ 208 CHAPTER IV After Birth: Reflections on Writing and Negotiating the Triple Braid My autobiographical journey: The politics of writing self and the acts of finding voice ...................................................... 229 Reflection on writing my mother’s life: Negotiating ambivalence, hope and privilege .......................... 232 Fathers, the absent but implicit in women’s lifewriting .............. 251 Negotiating the triple braid: Silences and voices of a mother, a father and a daughter ..................... 257 Metamorphosis of narratives: Narrative therapy and its implications for lifewriting ............. 263 CHAPTER V Conclusion: Bringing Together Overview ....................................................................................... 271 Limitations of reflexive research: Limits of knowledge and methodology in lifewriting .............................. 272 Negotiating...

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