Family Album - MOJ Album
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Family Album ↔ Moj Album is an experimental memoir that uses a multi-genre structure—poetry, prose, and photography—to examine what it means to witness atrocity. I was born in the middle of the Yugoslavian Civil War (also referred to as the Bosnian War) in 1994, and my parents and I immigrated to Canada a year later in 1995. Because both of my parents lived through this war, and I was born into it, I have memories surface that I can’t explain, memories that reveal an unknown past that demands my attention. These so-called memories engage with what Marianne Hirsch coins “postmemory”: a recent concept in the study of atrocity that investigates how people who have suffered trauma pass on “memories” of the original trauma to their children. Postmemory is primarily used throughout the thesis to explore what I have experienced as a child of survivors and to understand what these experiences mean. In fact, I complicate Hirsch’s notion of postmemory because I am both a survivor and a child of survivors. Therefore, Family Album ↔ Moj Album uses this liminal position to examine what memories of the war are my own and which ones are transferred to me by my parents. Family Album ↔ Moj Album also asks the question: what happens when a child is the primary “witness” to a father’s war-story. I use M.D. Dori Laub’s conceptualizing of the witness as a framing device for the entire thesis. Laub writes of three levels of witness: witness to oneself, witness to other’s testimonies, and witness to the act of witnessing itself. My memoir uses these levels to investigate how I fit into each level throughout my life as well as complicate Laub’s notion of the “empathetic listener.” Photographs are used and “created” in my memoir to show how postmemory, photography, and trauma are interconnected since photographs produce a material connection to the past. I manipulate photographs and include a variety within the memoir because they connect me with a past to which I do not have direct access. The memoir examines the effects of intergenerational trauma, and how memory can be recovered with the use of technology—like that of scanner photography (scannography). The memoir acts as a space for me to reconcile my past and give me room to have a voice amongst the loud events of my family’s past.