Memory, Identity and Public Narrative: Composing a Life-Story after Leaving Institutional Care, Victoria, 1945–83

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Individual memories resonate in complex ways with an available repertoire of public narratives about similar experiences. This article reflects on the relationships between personal memory, narrative identity and the larger culture, drawing on the theoretical work of writers such as Paul Ricoeur, Alasdair MacIntyre, David Carr and Margaret Somers. The illustrations for this theoretical discussion are based on an interview project with men and women who grew up in institutional care in the Australian state of Victoria. They were asked to reflect on how their subsequent lives had been shaped by that childhood experience. Their stories illustrate their struggles to compose a coherent identity, and how contemporary public narratives about institutional abuses contribute to shaping, or contesting, personal memory.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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