Relaying, Silencing, Resisting – Intergenerational Legacies of War, Displacement, and Family Separation

Over the past four years, the project “Postmemory of Family Separation: An Intergenerational Perspective” (Academy of Finland, 2019-2023) has explored how families recall or silence painful events of the past, such as war, persecution, displacement, and the subsequent family separation. This closing seminar discusses the projects main findings, bringing forth the intimate dimension and long traces of tumultuous political and societal events that are taking place in different parts of the world even today.
A detail from grandfather's letter. Photo by Sarianna Kranz.
Photo: A detail from grandfather's letter/ Sarianna Kranz.

Tapahtuman tiedot




Tellus Stage, Linnanmaa, University of Oulu & online

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How do painful events of the past, such as war, persecution, displacement, and the subsequent family separation influence family memory? How does family reminiscence, or its absence, affect dispersed family members’ sense of self, mental health, and how the past is dealt with across generations? The project “Postmemory of Family Separation: An Intergenerational Perspective” has explored these topical questions by focusing on descendants of Ingrian Finns, whose family members experienced persecution and forced migrations in the context of totalitarian states in the first half of the twentieth century.

This closing seminar presents the project’s primary research results. By using biographical interviews and survey data, the project illuminates how different generations relay, reconcile, contest, or suppress difficult family histories and memories, and, subsequently, how the lived histories of conflicts, persecution, displacement, and family separation may have carryover effects into subsequent generations. These effects may come to the surface in the (grand)children of survivors, for example, through acts and expressions of resistance towards states’ governing practices deemed as unjust. Moreover, the effects of historical family separation can materialize in emotional and embodied responses that the “postgenerations” may have difficulties understanding.

The Postmemory project contributes to a deeper understanding of Ingrians’ social history, including their intergenerational experiences of losing family members, as well as discrimination based on their ethnic background or citizenship. More broadly speaking, the project and this closing seminar flesh out the intimate dimension and long traces of tumultuous political and societal events that are taking place in different parts of the world even today.

The project “Postmemory of Family Separation: An Intergenerational Perspective” is funded by the Academy of Finland (2019-2023) and it is led by Dr. Johanna Leinonen (Deaconess Foundation).

This is a hybrid event that is free and open to anyone interested. Please register by May 31, 2023, by filling out this form. Please indicate whether you plan to participate in person or online. For more information, please contact johanna.leinonen(at)


13.00 Welcome, Dr. Johanna Leinonen (Deaconess Foundation)

13.15 Dr. Elina Turjanmaa (University of Oulu): Intergenerational Transmission of Historical Trauma: Descendants’ Mental Health and Ethnic Identity

13.45 Dr. Outi Kähäri (University of Oulu): Memory Activism among Descendants of Ingrian Finns

14.15 Discussion

14.30 Coffee break

15.00 Dr. Minna-Kerttu Kekki (University of Oulu): Inherited Memory, Incoherent Identity: Experiences of an Ingrian Descendant

15.30 Keynote speech: Dr. Öndercan Muti (Humboldt University of Berlin): Doing Family-Memories: Younger Generations and Narratives of the Armenian Genocide

16.15 Comments by Dr. Seija Jalagin (University of Oulu)

16.30 Discussion, closing remarks

17.00 Seminar ends

Keynote bio

Öndercan Muti has received his Ph.D. in sociology at the Humboldt University of Berlin, where he is still an associate lecturer. In his PhD thesis, he studied the postmemory of the Armenian Genocide, while focusing on concepts of generation, family and transnationalism. Currently, he is a scientific coordinator at the Population Europe, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Berlin. His recent publications include “‘Facts, Not Emotions’: Changing Generational Needs and New Meanings of the Memory of the Armenian Genocide” (in Family Memory: Practices, Transmissions and Uses in a Global Perspective, ed. Radmila Švaříčková Slabáková, Routledge, 2022) and “Border-Crossers” (in The Routledge Handbook of Memory Activism, eds. Yifat Gutman and Jenny Wüstenberg, Routledge, 2023).

Keynote abstract

The trauma related to mass violence, war and genocide has been researched widely in terms of intergenerational transmission: How does the trauma of loss and violence after the intentional destruction of a group of people affects the survivors and their descendants over generations? Considering the complex emotional bond between family members, the transmission can be demanding, and family members don’t share the same old stories: Family memory is inevitably subject to change and adjustment over time. While focusing on the interplay of gender, generation and transnational dynamics, this presentation will closely examine how Armenian families in different countries remember and commemorate the losses after the Armenian Genocide and how younger generations locate themselves in the family history after more than a century.

Event photo: A detail from a grandfather's letter/ Sarianna Kranz.

Viimeksi päivitetty: 24.5.2023