Beyond stories of victimhood: Narrating experiences of displacement

Katarzyna Kwapisz Williams*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The paper examines life narratives of women of Polish background who migrated to Australia as displaced persons after the Second World War and whose memories and testimonies are collected in three volumes: Polish Migrants Stories/Życiorysy Polskich Emigrantów (2006), Lest we forget/Ocalić od zapomnienia (2004) and Wyrwane Drzewa: wspomnienia Polek emigrantek [Uprooted Trees: Memoirs of Polish Women Immigrants] (2000). The paper challenges the notions of vulnerability and victimhood usually associated with women migrants and their narratives, and throws light on diversity of gender roles, behaviours and attitudes that emerge from the memories of war, experiences of living in transit, within and outside refugee and migrant camps, by referring to the ways the authors present themselves, their achievements, autonomy and agency in their life narratives. Reaching beyond victim stories, yet being informed by them, the paper suggests how post-war life stories - in which women narrate themselves as active agents, able to manage the achievement of belonging, and exploit their power to act as well as to represent - can be incorporated into an understanding of migration.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)437-455
    Number of pages19
    JournalLife Writing
    Volume11
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2014

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