Intergenerational Transgressions in Re-living War and the Uncertainty of Displacement: A Privilege or a Curse for the Third Generation

Author: Anna Odrowąż-Coates
Institution: The Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw
Year of publication: 2019
Source: Show
Pages: 55-70
DOI Address:
PDF: kie/124/kie12404.pdf

Transgression is often seen as a negative term; to cross social or ethical boundaries. In this paper, it is defined as ‘blurring of the symbolic boundaries between grandparents and younger generations in terms of the WWII experience’, which leads to living memory of the war, but also to experiencing and re-living the trauma of war and dislocation. It occurs through the immersion of younger generations in family history narratives, memorabilia, diaries and photographs that become a family treasure, owned jointly by the family members. In this paper, intergenerational transgression is analysed as a softand symbolic phenomenon, which on one hand preserves the memory of past, but on the other, cascades the negative experiences onto children and grandchildren. If this is true for WWII survivors, then it should be considered in other cases of long-term conflict and dislocation, particularly in recent conflicts such as Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Understanding the connection between intergenerational transgression of war trauma may aid the process of healing.


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