Remembrance and Reception: Narrative Transmissions and the “Postmemory” of Children of Martial Law Survivors

Dr Mary Grace Concepcion1

1University Of The Philippines Diliman, Philippines

Around 34 years after the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines, numerous narratives emerged about how activists during this period fought against the dictatorship and were consequently tortured, imprisoned and killed. Most studies and narratives take on the point-of-view of the activists; few are recorded from the vantage points of their children, especially those with no memories of that period. Using Marianne Hirsch’s concept “the generation of postmemory”, this paper explores the narrative medium, transmission and frameworks of memories from Martial Law survivors to their offspring who were born years after the dictatorship, through recorded interviews with these children now adults. Though Hirsch argues that the parents’ trauma constitute the memories of their children, my study reveals that for some of these children growing up with these memories, the stories have become normalised: the parents would frame these as narratives of struggle and valour, or deflect the focus from the personal to the political. While the children would remain invested, some also feel the distance from these memories since they already enjoy comfortable lives. These intergenerational life stories also bridge the public to the private worlds of these experiences, and link history to memory, the past to the present.


Mary Grace R. Concepcion is Assistant Professor at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines Diliman. She received her PhD degree in Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. Her current research interests include autobiography studies, memory studies, Philippine Literature, Philippine Women’s Writing and Revolutionary Literature.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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