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Writing Descendant Generation Memoirs as a Collaborative and Self-Reflexive Process


This paper illustrates the varied and often helpful ways in which memoir-writing, generally thought to be a sole-authorship enterprise, can be enhanced through some form of collaborative process. Over the last two decades, articles in Second Generation Voices, the magazine published by the Second Generation Network in the UK, reported on the ‘roots’ journeys undertaken by children of Holocaust survivors and refugees to places connected with family history. This led David Clark to embark on a book project, resulting in The Journey Home: Emerging out of the shadow of the past (2021), jointly edited with Teresa von Sommaruga Howard. After a brief was drawn up about the kind of issues each writer should address, David met with the authors and suggested they work together as a group to enable them to discuss their initial ideas and support each other in the writing process. They rejected this idea, and so it fell on the editors to provide guidance and support. Alternative ways in which the editorial process could have been handled are explored by referring to the literature on Memory Work, as outlined by Haug (1987), Crawford et al (1992) and Postmemory (Hirsch 2012). Other approaches that encourage self-reflexivity are examined, including the use of creative writing workshops.


Second Generation, Memory Work, Memoir, Postmemory, Collaborative, Editing


Author Biography

Teresa von Sommaruga Howard

Teresa von Sommaruga Howard grew up in Aotearoa New Zealand, a bicultural country, but now lives in the UK and works internationally. She is an architect, systemic family therapist and group analyst, mainly focusing on the long-term effects of socio-political trauma. She lectures on these themes. She has co-authored a book, Design through Dialogue: A Guide for Clients and Architects, Wiley (2010), as well as The Journey Home, emerging out of the shadow of the past (2021).


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