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Memory of Berlin: An accidental Autoethnography.

Readman, M., 2021. Memory of Berlin: An accidental Autoethnography. Ekphrasis, 26 (2), 43 -55.

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Readman – Memory of Berlin (2021).pdf - Published Version


DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.26


Although the term autobiography features regularly in the essay film literature, autoethnography appears less so. John Burgan made Memory of Berlin (1998) in his thirties, to tell the story of how he was “triggered” by the fall of the Wall in 1989 to search for his birth mother, and through this film fuses the personal with the political and historical, and explores loss, trauma and melancholy. Using the lens of autoethnography, a form of inquiry which “puts questions and ‘issues of being’ into circulation and dialogue” (Bochner 53), I argue that Memory of Berlin embodies this autoethnographic spirit, if not avant la lettre, then certainly without its maker’s conscious engagement with theory. What is at stake in this is not merely whether or not Memory of Berlin can be described as autoethnographic in addition to autobiographical, but how identifying and understanding the autoethnographic mode might help us exemplify Catherine Russell’s argument that “autobiography becomes ethnographic at the point where the film or video maker understands his or her personal history to be implicated in larger social formations and historical processes” (276). Autoethnography, then, may be a term that we can make better use of in discussions of particular instances of the essay film, regardless of whether or not a filmmaker embarks on a fully consciously methodological endeavour.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:John Burgan; Memory of Berlin; autobiography; autoethnography; essay film
Group:University Executive Team
ID Code:36498
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:13 Jan 2022 15:40
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:32


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