Insights into the intergenerational transmission of memories in Latvian Oral History Archive


Remembering is a both a deeply personal and social process that is connected to an impulses and individual’s capacities to verbalise and create texts. The story of one’s life is enmeshed in and structured by one’s language, consciousness and memory as well as one’s cultural traditions and models of communication. Unlike an official world history, the flow of a narrator’s memories immerses us in their subjective feelings, perceptions and experiences. When subjective accounts of experience resonate with the listener’s own perceptions, the transfer of knowledge takes on emotional weight. Oral history has the dynamism of tradition, as described in contemporary theories of folkloristics, a field that explores people’s local, noncanonical, vernacular expressions. The link with folklore reveals itself in the diversity of the messages in orally conveyed memories. Over the generations, a family’s historical experiences might take on the form of a folklore genre such as myth or legend. Individual lines of transferred memories in the Latvian Oral History Archive show how the memories of past generations take on meaning in descendants’ stories about their own lives, and how individual motifs pass between generations of the same family. They also reveal the horizontal movement of specific memory stories between members of the same generation dispersed geographically.

Nov 12, 2020 — Nov 13, 2020
Rīga (Latvija)
Ieva Garda
vadošā pētnieka p.i.
Māra Zirnīte

Mutvārdu vēstures pētniece, Nacionālā mutvārdu vēstures projekta koordinatore