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Relative HistoriesMediating History in Asian American Family Memoirs$
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Rocío G. Davis

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824834586

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824834586.001.0001

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date: 17 August 2017

The Asian American Family Portrait Documentary

The Asian American Family Portrait Documentary

Multiplying Discourses

Chapter:
(p.116) Chapter 6 The Asian American Family Portrait Documentary
Source:
Relative Histories
Author(s):

Rocío G. Davis

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824834586.003.0006

This chapter examines the discursive possibilities of the filmed family memoir, called “family portrait documentary,” as a form of historical mediation. Three family portrait documentaries are discussed: Lise Yasui's The Family Gathering (1989), Ruth Ozeki Lounsbury's Halving the Bones (1995), and Ann Marie Fleming's The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam (2003). The first two films use innovative techniques to reenact the family story of Japanese American internment. In the third, the author also deploys numerous audiovisual techniques to perform the life of her great-grandfather, a vaudeville star, and their transnational family. This chapter considers the ways in which family memoirs manipulate the possibilities that film offers in representing generations of Asian American families, particularly by asking crucial questions about private and public negotiations with history and family stories. It also explores how such documentaries mediate the history of Asian Americans and reconstruct a familial and historical past that acknowledges the elusive nature of personal memory.

Keywords:   historical mediation, family portraits, Lise Yasui, Ruth Ozeki Lounsbury, Ann Marie Fleming, Japanese American internment, family memoirs, Asian American families, Asian Americans, personal memory

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