Writing My Way Home Disconnections, Connections, And Reconnections: Rifts And The Possibility Of Healing Through Memory And Story
Kamenitz, Lois Susan
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The current environmental crisis in western, capitalist, colonial societies reflects a moral crisis for which one more technological fix will not suffice. It reflects rifts between our body and the rest of nature that originate with the lack of a sense of embodied, felt somatic relationship to self, others and to nature, of which we are a part. In this paper, I explore how a critical autoethnographic lens, as self-reflective research and writing: shines a light on the interplay between an individual’s lived experiences and those of the wider world; situates the individual in a broader context; returns the gaze and, by so doing, leads to both a greater understanding of the interconnections between all things and to the possibility of healing. Autoethnography has become an important way for those on the margins to “talk back to power.” The notion of truth is one I see as very relevant to autoethnography. What is truth, whose truth are we referring to when we say something is true or not true, how is truth constructed and, who is privileged to speak the truth, who is silenced? In a similar fashion, knowledge and knowledge making are important. Autoethnography frees the writer to write in an evocative, engaging manner that can be easily accessed by a broad crosssection of readers. It speaks to how all creatures survive and thrive, even in difficult situations, and how they leave behind, not only the remnants of their material possessions and their physical presence, but their strength, their courage, their passion, their ingenuity, their rage and their love. “Autoethnography disrupts the binary of art and science (Ellis, Adam, & Bochner, 2011, Section 5). It weaves together the social sciences, the humanities and the craft of writing. I draw on myth and folklore, literature, poetry and photography, as well as academic writing in environmental studies, sociology, social and political theory, narrative theory, philosophy, and women’s studies. In telling my story, I am gathering knowledge from the past, but it is not necessarily knowledge about the past, for all that I sometimes have are traces and fragments. Memory too is selective; it plays tricks on us, for it is mediated. There is also collective memory. Most relevant to autoethnography is the link between personal and collective identity. Through the writing process, I learn how loss begins to fade into memory and how I am able to construct memory and bring to consciousness seemingly lost memories, both individual and collective.