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Title: Autobiographical acts, ethnic memory and history of African-Caribbean and Jewish communities in twentieth century Britain
Author: Romain, Gemma
ISNI:       0000 0001 3534 2025
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis is a comparative assessment of the historical memories of African-Caribbean and Jewish communities in Britain. The communities' memories are explored through the 'autobiographical act' - primarily autobiography but also oral history narrative and Internet sites. This study analyses how mythologies affect collective memory and influence personal identities. In the last few decades there has been a massive increase in autobiographical productions of ethnic minorities. However, there has been little critical analysis of these works, as compared to the USA. This thesis explores life history productions, through an historical perspective whilst utilising the theories of other disciplines. The central premise of this work is to compare and contrast two communities who have several parallels in historical experience, and more significantly historical memory, but who for several reasons have rarely been compared to each other within ethnic minority research in Britain. This thesis is divided into three interrelated sections. Section One explores the significance and relevance of the concepts of the 'Mother Country' and the 'Promised Land' to African-Caribbean and Jewish migrants. It suggests that these mythologies were in part constructed after migration as a way of internally dealing with the realities of life in Britain. Section Two compares the communities' use of the concept of diaspora within their autobiographical memories. Memories of professional writers are explored, who often use travelling experiences to reflect upon the idea of what it means to have a diasporic or essentialist identity. Section Three explores the reasons why communities and 'mainstream' collective memory remember and forget aspects their experiences in Britain, including racism and anti-Semitism, and also explores the way both communities are now re-remembering suppressed histories.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available