Historical trauma: The case of children of Vietnam veterans
Weber, Christina Dione
MetadataShow full item record
Through an analysis of interviews I conducted with twenty-five children of Vietnam Veterans, along with select cultural artifacts of the Vietnam War, I explore the mechanisms involved in the intergenerational transmission of trauma. Specifically, I interrogate the way the historically traumatic event of the Vietnam War has moved intergenerationally through social and individual memory. Through this analysis a significant insight emerges: the focal point of the articulation of trauma shifts from the original traumatic event to the subject of trauma. In this case, the Vietnam Veteran becomes the enunciative site of trauma, which underscores the complex ways in which the event of trauma moves through time and space. Structuring my analysis around the point where my interviewees' discussions of their fathers touch on aspects of the Father, the Vietnam Veteran, and hero allows me to interrogate how these crystallized structures work as interlocking identity categories defining the masculine subject's position in the dominant fiction of America. Manifesting in my interviewees' narratives through their discussion of their intersubjective relationships with their fathers, the process of the intergenerational transmission of trauma turns our attention to the deeper breaks implied in the traumatic event of the Vietnam War. Specifically, it uncovers America's break with the dominant fiction, particularly in its relation to masculine subjectivity.