Memory Work: The Power of the Mundane

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In this article, I raise three interconnecting questions that emerge from my use of memory-work: memory and normality; research 'rules'; and, briefly, the theoretical underpinnings of the method. The first question addresses the nature of the memories written about: were they focussed on one singular, extra-ordinary occurrence, as some researchers seemed to find, or were they what could be called 'layered' memories, reflecting the ordinary repetitive stories of everyday life? What are the implications of either kind of memory for understanding how 'we are constructed'? The second question explores this idea of normality further, and considers the assertion of the original memory-work researchers that 'crisis has an everyday quality'. One strength of the method may be to help resist a 'general training in the normality of heteronomy' - including perhaps a tendency to take memory-work itself as a set of imposed 'rules' to follow. The third question emerges from my own sense that I could have used the method even more powerfully if I had been able to generate my own 'rules', by calling on a deeper understanding of the Marxist, as well as the feminist, frameworks of the original memory-work researchers. It is a question about how we can use the strength of a wide range of both theoretical frameworks and everyday experiences to develop memory-work into the rich and heterogeneous collection of methods that can help us understand the apparent normality of everyday life.
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