Talking about the past, locating it in the present: Second-generation from refugee backgrounds making sense of their parent’s narratives, narrative gaps and silences

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Abstract

This paper focuses on inter-generational narratives of exile and persecution as well as the narrative gaps and the silences between generations from the perspectives of the second generation from refugee backgrounds. The paper draws on data from interviews with UK born adults with parents who had been refugees from Vietnam, Sri Lanka (Tamils) and Kurds from Turkey. While some parents shared pre-migration, flight and post-migration stories others chose not to talk about the past. There were clear differences between the three heritage groups that related to the displacement contexts and to responses to loss and trauma. Both the stories told and the gaps and silences were made sense of and filtered, by the second generation, through the lens of their lives in the UK. The second generation developed their own narratives of their parent’s pasts, which were embedded in their everyday lives but also framed around their distinctive heritages.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • Second generation
  • narrative
  • memory
  • narrative gaps
  • silence
  • inter-generational transmission
  • Trauma

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