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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


Introduction The Past was almost as much a work of the Imagination as the Future. ~Jessamyn West~ This book is an exploration of the processes of writing personal life narratives as a way of doing poststructuralist reflexive feminist re- search. It focuses on three life narratives written in different narrative styles: my mother’s biography, which I have written from oral sour- ces; my father’s biography, which I have written from my own mem- ory and imagination; and my autobiography/autoethnography. I will be exploring the reflexive, creative and imaginative journeys in writ- ing my parents’ lives and my own life as ways of doing reflexive fe- minist research. In my view, this project began many years ago when I was a young adolescent scribbling down little stories on pieces of scrap paper. Looking back now, I realise that while I was intrigued by my parents’ lives, a large part of my storytelling/storymaking was a product of the interplay between imagination and memory. Without imagination/memory, none of the lifewriting in this book would have been possible, nor would the reflexive feminist methodology that I have undertaken to perform this research project. Hence, the first and foremost tribute of this book is to imagination and memory. The book is organised in ways that are closely reflective of the journey of writing involved. Chapter I – The Ambivalent Conception, sto- ries the journey of how this research project began and the emergent conceptual positionings informing the methodological frameworks of this book. Chapter II – The Umbilical...

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