Family Secrets National Silences: Intergenerational Memory in Australia

This project investigates the inherited family secrets, stories, and memories that inform Australians’ understandings of colonial history.

Family album


Overview

This project investigates the inherited family secrets, stories, and memories that inform Australians’ understandings of colonial history. So far, efforts to address historical silences focus on how we can change narratives at the macro level – in national museums and school curriculums. The role of the family as a place where colonial histories are told, edited, and hotly debated, has received far less attention. But the stories we inherit within families – stories that anchor our very sense of identity and belonging – may be the most impactful and deep-seated, and the most difficult to transform. The projects uses qualitative methods, archival research, and narrative analysis to investigate family practices such as secret-keeping, truth-telling, silencing, remembering, and forgetting. By examining how families negotiate difficult memories, emotions, and silences, this study seeks to reveal how Australians deal with historical responsibility, inherited trauma, and diverse cultural histories in everyday life.

Project details

Sponsors

ARC DECRA grant

Project team

Dr Ashley Barnwell

Contact

Dr Ashley Barnwell