Embodied memories of trauma: oral history and archetypes

Francesco Ricatti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Through the analysis of interviews recorded with
Norma Holmes, a woman born in New Zealand in the
late 1920s from a French mother and a Chinese father,
this article considers how traumatic experiences are
recalled and shared by individuals though archetypical
and uncanny narratives. In particular, it explores the
surprising interrelation between Norma Holmes’ story
and the archetypical narratives analysed by Carlo
Ginzburg in his work on the witches’ sabbath. This
unlikely connection illustrates the need to acknowledge
the historical depth that oral storytelling of traumatic
events often carries. Phantasmatic and archetypical,
yet deeply embodied, memories and narratives should
be at the core of our understanding of the past, and how
it lives in the present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-63
Number of pages7
JournalStudies in Oral History
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Oral History
  • Migration
  • World War II
  • Trauma
  • Archetypes

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