Stories about Stories: Life Story Collecting as Commemoration and Social Activism

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[Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University
The oral life-story is a flexible genre that allows one to connect the private with the public world. It is a window that allows the world to catch a glimpse of the personal experiences and values of the ordinary person. The representations of self and the past that are embodied in life-stories can be used as tools by researchers and activists for larger agendas that create meanings in culture and society. This dissertation deals with two different ways life-story collecting has served two different objectives. Mara in Latvia has created a "master story" that fills and commemorates the "silenced gaps" in Latvian history left by its fifty years under Soviet rule; Karen in Brazil has created a "master story" that works for social change and embraces the diversity of Brazil and the world. Through analysis of Mara's and Karen's own life-stories and the products they have produced, this study examines the "master story" each has created from the many life-stories told to them, against the cultural and political backdrop of Latvia and Brazil.
Thesis (PhD) - Indiana University, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 2007
Life story, Latvia, Brazil
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Doctoral Dissertation