(Re)writing biography: Memory, identity, and textually mediated reality in coming to terms with the past

2011-12-16T09:22:57Z (GMT) by Cristian Tileaga
This paper is concerned with how biography, memory, and identity are managed and displayed in a public confession of having been an informer for the Securitate (the former Romanian Communist Secret Police). Drawing on discursive psychology, the analysis reveals how biographical details are produced by drawing upon categorizations of people, context, and events, and organizationally relevant products such as the ‘‘archive,’’ the (Securitate) ‘‘file,’’ ‘‘information notes,’’ and personal notes. It is suggested that constructions of memory and identity are legitimated through a relationship with an organizational and personal accomplishment of accountability. The question guiding the analysis asks not why, but how remembering assumes the form that it does and how, ultimately, it can connect biography, memory, and identity to the wider ideological context. It is shown that a process of (re)writing biography is located in the ‘‘textual traces’’ contained in personal and ‘‘official’’ records. Recollections, dispositions, intentions, and moral character are intertwined with a textually mediated reality in producing the public record of disclosure, and the personal and political significance of what is remembered.