In this paper I trace the various social biographies of selected family photographs that traveled from Palestine to Canada and depict my parents’ lives in pre-1948 Palestine, the West Bank and Jordan, and cover multiple generations from the 1930s to the present day. In this work I answer previously unattended questions; for instance, how and to what extend did the social and cultural meaning of these photographs change as they were removed from the photographic traditions of the Middle East where they were produced and relocated to Canada with my parents? What social and cultural value did these photographs hold for me and my siblings as members of the postmemory generation growing up in Canada and has this significance shifted now that we are adults? Finally, what importance might this photographic archive come to have for my siblings’ children? Utilizing the photographic album that houses the bulk of the family’s photographs produced in Palestine and Jordan as an instrument of social and oral performance, I analyze how the members of my family narrate the multiple and fluid memories, investments and realities that these photographs facilitate.
Given Kim’s (2005) assertion that the matriarch of the family often takes on the task of compiling and preserving family photographs and albums, as well as Schulz’s (2003) statement that it often falls to the mothers and women in Palestinian families to retain and pass on family history, it is not surprising that my mother was the one who took on this task.