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Intergenerational trauma in African and Native American literatures.

Craddock, Tina
June 4, 2015

Source: (2014) Thesis.Degree of Masters in English. Department of English. East Carolina University.

The enslavement and persecution of African and Native peoples has been occurring in the
U.S. since the 1600s. There have been justifications, explanations and excuses offered as to why
one race feels superior over another. Slavery, according to the Abolition Project, refers to “a
condition in which individuals are owned by others, who control where they live and at what
they work” (, 2009). Dr. Maria Yellow Horse Braveheart researched the concept of
historical trauma as it relates to American Indians, whereby she found that trauma due to
unresolved grief, disenfranchised grief, and unresolved internalized oppression could continue to
manifest itself through many generations. This thesis will examine the intergenerational effects
of historical trauma as they are depicted in selected African and Native bildungsromans. These
specific works were chosen because they allow me to compare and contrast how subsequent
generations of these two cultures were still being directly affected by colonialism, especially as it
pertains to the loss of their identities. It also allows me to reflect on how each of the main
characters, all on the cusp of adulthood, make choices for their respective futures based on
events that occurred long before they were born. (author’s abstract) Chapter 5 introduces restorative justice as a mechanism for healing.


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