FAMILY NARRATIVES, CULTURAL HERITAGE, DIGITAL STORYTELLING

In document My Story. Digital Storytelling across Europe for Social Cohesion (Page 159-161)

Andreas Moutsios-Rentzos

2. FAMILY NARRATIVES, CULTURAL HERITAGE, DIGITAL STORYTELLING

Several projects utilising museums have been developed with the purpose to motivate the local communities or specifically educational communities in developing a positive relationship with their cultural heritage (for example, Akbulut, Ciftci & Akbulut, 2013; Curtis & Seymour, 2004; Fairweather, Flint & Mannis, 2011; Kisiel, 2014). In this project, we focus on the expanded family system that includes the different generations that may constitute a family. In order to gain deeper understanding about the study, it is crucial to describe the main characteristics and the main ways of functioning of the Greek family. Following these, it is important to identify the typical family structure and function in Greece, as well the typical ways of school-family interaction with respect to mathematics. The Greek family may be identified as a nuclear family, as it usually includes a married couple and their children (Nova-Kaltsouni, 2018), which accords with the definition of the nuclear family of two generations to constitute a household. Hence, the “Greek family appears to be phenomenologically a nuclear family” (Mylonas, Gari, Giotsa, Pavlopoulos, & Panagiotopoulou, 2006, p. 351). The Greek family functionally is characterised as extended family or joint family (more than two generations and/or relatives in the same household), due to the fact that the nuclear family members “maintain close contacts with relatives; they visit them regularly, or if living at some distance, telephone them frequently” (Mylonas et al., 2006, p. 351). The morphological equivalent of the Greek family “is the extended family system in the urban setting with a continuation of contacts with its network of kin” (Mylonas et al., 2006, p. 352). Moreover, Nova-Kaltsouni (2018) discusses survey data gathered by the Hellenic Statistical Authority, the Eurostat and the European Social Survey, as well as by various research projects conducted in Greece, identifying that the role of the mother in the upbringing of the children qualitatively differs from the father’s, with the mother expected to be the predominant carer, even with respect to her career.

The importance of cultural heritage and diversity is at the heart of various inter-country organisations (UNESCO, ICCROM), non-governmental organisations (ICOM, ICOMOS), as well as the European Commission. For example, cultural diversity is highlighted in the first article of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Culture Diversity as a source of cultural exchange, of innovation and of creativity. Nevertheless, many sites of cultural interest are also sites of touristic interest (Leong & Li, 2010), which implies that the related financial interests further complicate the relationship of the citizens with their cultural heritage. Though appropriate synergies within this complexity have been proven especially effective for preserving and highlighting the historical, cultural, religious and

industrial heritage of a whole territory (McKercher & Du Cros, 2002), the strong financial interests are not always to the benefit of cultural heritage (Jansen-Verbeke, 1998). Hence, the relationships between culture and development are considered to incorporate the drive for socio-economic change that transcend, yet crucially affect the educational and academic environment in several countries (Vieira et al., 2011).

In this study, we consider a systemic approach to explore the links amongst the individual, the family system and cultural heritage. In specific, we adopt the ecological systems approach to family narratives as introduced by Fivush and Merrill (2016) and subsequently developed (for example, Fivush, 2019). The synthesised the ecological systems approach (Bronfenbrenner, 1979) with McLean’s idea of “narrative ecologies” (McLean, 2016; McLean & Breen, 2016) to discuss family narratives (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Ecological systems model of family narratives Fivush & Merrill, 2016, p. 308).

Fivush and Merrill (2016) conceptualised family narratives as embedded niches, differentiating amongst:

• Family narratives in the micro-system. The micro-system includes the shared family narratives that are co-constructed from early childhood to adolescence: “in early childhood is the emergence of culturally mediated narrative forms for expressing one’s experiences in coherent ways, and this form is shaped by the social interactions in which parents and children reminisce about shared experiences together.” (Fivush & Merrill, 2016, p. 309). On the other hand, as the family members progresses towards and through adolescence the family narratives play a crucial role in identity formation: “shared family narratives are an important mechanism through which children and adolescents create identity and psychosocial well-being (Fivush & Merrill, 2016, p. 309).

• Family narratives in the exo-system. The exo-system includes the communicative family narratives through which the family members is exposed to “worlds larger than they can directly experience” (Fivush & Merrill, 2016, p. 309); worlds that are

not spatiotemporarily accessible to the listener, but only to the teller. For example, parents and grandparents may share stories with the younger family members on a daily basis about their everyday life events that happen in the broader social system (Today I stories). Such intergenerational narratives are crucial for the identity formation of the family members; for example, “adolescents who make more explicit intergenerational links between themselves and their parents show higher levels of identity exploration, levels of self-esteem, levels of growth and autonomy, and lower levels of internalizing and externalizing behaviors” (Fivush & Merrill, 2016, p. 311). • Family narratives in the macro-system. The macro-system focusses on the cultural narratives and myths that inform the family narratives. The cultural narrative frames provide the worldview, the space within life develops. In particular, the family narratives in the macro-system refer to the family history which transcends the lived space of the present of all the family members to include “ancestors and family myths” (Fivush & Merrill, 2016, p. 312). Thus, by “placing shared and communicative family narratives within the larger macro-structure of family history informed by cultural master narratives, family narratives link the individual to the larger cultural worlds in which they live” (Fivush & Merrill, 2016, p. 312).

The literature has investigated ways of fostering the students’ positive attitudes about cultural heritage, there appears to be limited research investigating the links between cultural heritage and family narratives. In this study, we investigate the family narratives about a place of significant cultural importance through the aforementioned ecological systems approach. In our investigations, we focus on the triadic relationship self-family- place of significant cultural importance through a digital storytelling approach. Digital storytelling was employed as means of communicating rich, multimodal, verbal and non- verbal narratives, thus facilitating the multileveled experiencing of the story. Considering that in our study we are interested in intergenerational aspects of the family narratives, we posited that such media rich communications would promote the viewer’s empathetic experience of the teller’s story.

We use digital storytelling to reveal three levels of the triadic relationship: a) Me and the place of significant cultural place, b) Me and my family and the place of significant cultural place, c) We the place of significant cultural place. Thus, through the individual digital stories that may include autobiographical memories, we identify the shared family narrative, the communicative family narrative and the family history. We posit that digital storytelling may facilitate the communication of the different family narrative niches, linking cultural heritage with family narratives, and family members with their family narratives. Considering the importance of family narratives in the identity formation of the family members, in this study we address the following question: Which family narratives about the cultural heritage of Ancient Olympia as experienced by family members of different generations?

In document My Story. Digital Storytelling across Europe for Social Cohesion (Page 159-161)