Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Linking generations : the family legacies of older Armenian mothers Public Deposited

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  • Families stay connected over time through the intergenerational transmission of legacies. Legacies help family members to articulate family identity, learn more about family history, and provide succeeding generations with information about family culture and ethnicity. This qualitative study examines how older mothers transmit family meanings, history, and culture to family members through legacies and how ethnic histories influenced this process. Thirty older Armenian American mothers residing in California were interviewed. A life course perspective provides the overarching framework for analysis. Participants described the legacies they received and those they planned to pass on to family members. Emphasis was given to those legacies that symbolized connection to family, underscored family cohesion, and accentuated Armenian cultural roots. Individual age, larger historical events, and the gendered construction of family life influenced both the receipt of legacies and those that were passed on to family members. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Armenian families were forced to leave their native homeland. Because of these events, Armenian families passed few physical legacies on to family members. Legacies took on other forms such as stories, rituals, family gatherings, religious participation, cooking, and service to others. Women viewed their legacies within the context of motherhood and worked to ensure that certain legacies would be valued and remembered by future generations. Shaped by age, generational position, and ethnic identity, women expressed variation in types of legacies and the ways they planned to share them with family members. Women reported tension when certain legacies lacked meaning for their children (in-law) and grandchildren due to the influences of assimilation, intermarriage, changes in family and paid work patterns, and the characteristics and interests of adult children. A focus on legacies provides a useful lens for understanding how families transmit family identity, culture, and ethnicity to succeeding generations.
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