The Story of My Story: An Anthropology of Violence, Dispossession, and Diaspora

This is a story of an old man whose travels through the 20th century were marked by sorrow, humor, tragedy, and transformation. The author follows in anthropology's tradition of writing an individual's biography, locating one man's life in space and time. It is also an experiment in autoethnography since this anthropologist is the old man's daughter. The personal, intimate narrative recounts a father's history (child in Jedwabne, Poland, young man in Havana, old man in San Juan, Puerto Rico) which is also a story about peasantry, fascism, patriarchy, dictatorship, migration, transnationalism, revolution, and diaspora. In the strands of this tale, we see processes of structural violence and social suffering. Memory, interpretation and narrative can take us towards destruction, ethnocentrism, the worst of nationalism and war, or towards understanding, empathy, justice. My hope is that this experiment in autoethnography be a means towards becoming mindful, towards awakening—a necessary but insufficient condition in preventing genocidal violence.