My Maternal Genealogy: Remembering and Looking Back
This is a story of a mother and daughter told through the eyes of their grand/daughters. The stimulus for it was a conversation I had with my mother about my grandmother Mary’s early twentieth-century photo album. The leaves of the album shed light on a middle-class Melbournian lifestyle post World War I. My grandmother and her mother Margaret’s religious and social identity could be arranged through the structures of the dominant ideologies represented in the black and white photography. Yet, this interpretation of Mary’s life left me, her granddaughter dissatisfied as it gave shape to Margaret and Mary’s lives but it seemed to lack feeling. Binns (Art Network 1:20, 1979) notes: ‘…people live within certain roles and within certain restrictions, but they also can be assertive, can be inventive, can be creative in the way they conduct their lives’ (p. 42). I suppose what I, the auto/biographer and grand/daughter, looked for in my grandmother’s photo album and in my mother’s and aunt’s stories was a more imaginative whimsical feminist tale of my maternal forebears. Hence, this chapter explores these women’s lives and relationships through the impassioned gaze of a (great) granddaughter.
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