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The Roots of Remembrance : Tracing the Memory Practices of the Children of Far East Prisoners of War

Smyth, Terry (2017) The Roots of Remembrance : Tracing the Memory Practices of the Children of Far East Prisoners of War. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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This thesis is about the children of former Far East prisoners of war (FEPOWs): their memories of childhood, how they fashioned those memories in adulthood, and the relationship between the two. The FEPOW experience reverberated through postwar family life, and continued to shape the lives of participants across the intervening decades. Although a great deal is now known about the hardships suffered by the men, captivity had a deep and enduring impact on their children, but their history is rarely heard, and poorly understood. In Roots of Remembrance I investigate the lives of these children through in-depth interviews, using a psychosocial approach to both interviews and analysis. By tracing intergenerational transmission through the life course, I show that the memory practices of the children of Far East POWs had psychosocial roots in the captivity experiences of their fathers. For some, childhood was coloured by overt physical or psychological trauma; for others, what passed as a ‘normal’ upbringing led later to a pressing desire to discover more about their fathers’ wartime histories. My research demonstrates the need for a more nuanced and holistic approach to understanding intergenerational trauma transmission within this particular group. I argue that participants made creative use of memory practices across the course of their lives to revisit, review and reconstruct their relationships with their fathers, in order to reach an accommodation with their childhood memories. Findings include the value of attachment theory in understanding the associations between childhood experience and later memory practices, the role of the body and other implicit means of transmitting trauma, and the need for a greater awareness of the impact of cumulative and complex trauma within these families. Finally, I conclude that the psychosocial methodology enabled me to access areas of subjectivity and intersubjectivity that might otherwise have remained in the shadows.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: World War Two; Far East prisoners of war; trauma; intergenerational transmission; memory; memory practices; psychosocial method; qualitative; pilgrimage.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D839 Post-war History, 1945 on
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology, Department of
Depositing User: Terry Smyth
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2017 10:20
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2017 10:20

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