Scenes of Af/filiation: Family Photographs in Postcolonial Life Writing

Lee-Von Kim

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4 Citations (Web of Science)


© 2015 Taylor and Francis. This essay considers the role of family photographs in postcolonial life writing. Focusing on memoirs by Hanif Kureishi, Michael Ondaatje and Edward Said, this essay examines how photography plays a key role in registering, and at times dramatising, the struggles of postcolonial subjects in writing about their childhoods and familial relationships. I argue that the narrativisation of photography-of taking, posing and looking at photographs-is a significant recurring trope in recent postcolonial life writing, and that the appearance of photographs draws attention to the memory work being performed in life writing texts. In all three cases, the family is imagined as an empire in microcosm, with the author's relationship with his father given particular attention. Finally, I consider how family photographs are implicated in father-son narratives of affiliation and disaffiliation in these memoirs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-415
JournalLife Writing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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