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Out of the Shadows of History and Memory: Personal Family Narratives in Ethnographies of Rediscovery

Alisse Waterston and Barbara Rylko-Bauer
American Ethnologist
Vol. 33, No. 3 (Aug., 2006), pp. 397-412
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3805330
Page Count: 16
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Out of the Shadows of History and Memory: Personal Family Narratives in Ethnographies of Rediscovery
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Abstract

Shadows are often places of hiding, ephemeral or blurred, and they also soften that which appears stark or unbearable in the light. This article is grounded in dialogues that revolve around shadows: between the two author-anthropologists, each reconstructing a parent's story, situating it in history and political economy; and between each daughter and her parent. Both parents have witnessed some of the 20th century's major upheavals and social processes-war, fascism, the Holocaust, revolution, migration, and exile. This article focuses on epistemological, emotional, methodological, and ethical issues in doing "intimate ethnography," a term coined by the authors. Through the process of examining similarities and differences in their respective ethnographies, the authors bring into sharper focus the roles of emotion, subjectivity, truthfulness, and positionality in ethnographic work.

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