‘Timeless places’ – Narratives about flight, exile and belonging
Keywords:chronotope, discourse-historical approach, Holocaust, network analysis, refugee, scenic story genre
In this paper, I present some results of an interdisciplinary (psychological, historical, discourse-analytical) research project on narratives of persecution, flight and survival. These stories told by the children (and grandchildren) of Austrian victims of Nazi persecution, all of them left-wing political dissidents and some of them also Jewish, relate to World War II and the Holocaust. In their narratives, the interviewees try to come to terms with the experiences of their parents (and grandparents) and bridge the obvious cognitive dissonance of living in Austria and holding a citizenship which was denied to their elders at a traumatic point of their parents' lives. Firstly, I focus on the narratives as they relate to flight and the loss of citizenship and homes. Secondly, I investigate what it meant - from the children's perspective - to later return to and grow up in the country that had excluded their parents. And thirdly, I reflect on what such stories imply for the present and future and what we can learn from them. In the analysis, I integrate quantitative methods (narrative network analysis and corpus linguistics) with qualitative discourse analysis. Although each story and the related context are of course unique, it is nevertheless worth discussing if specific characteristics of the narratives could be generalised to other contexts in order to illustrate the plights of fleeing refugees and their struggles for survival.
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