Any narrative of the self involves the relationship with the other, seen as part of either a closer or a more distant group ‑ the similar or the different other. Therefore, such narratives represent a type of identity search, expressing certain opinions, beliefs and values that form the basis of individual or collective existence. The specific character of autobiographical narratives is that of implicitly or explicitly expressing a scope of representations, placed in connection with concrete events, which are retroactively remembered, judged, evaluated and interpreted. These factual circumstances are rendered in accordance with the events that functioned as their framework at the time of their occurrence, as well as with current events.

Fragments of everyday family, social, and religious life come alive, gaining consistence ; they evoke the atmosphere of certain neighbourhoods or cities, national contexts, historical periods. A series of commonplaces or stereotypes find themselves deconstructed when confronted with the complexity of directly experienced facts, consequently opening up for questions and debates, for as long as the time allotted to the narration allows it. The story of a lifetime chiefly represents the exploration of a field of possibilities : the reporting of actual facts of life, the situational details, the complexity of emotional involvement stir human perception from its stillness, making it open itself to meaning, to meanings.

The research that we have carried out during the past years refers to family memory and the solidarity that appears in this context. It has given us the special opportunity of exploring the territory of the differences that became visible after a period during which they had been intentionally ignored or repressed. Ethnic or religious differences do not exhaust this topic ; yet, ever since the beginning of our research, the post‑1989 tendency to state, rediscover and reconsider this type of difference, manifested by various groups and communities formed upon such grounds, has shone through as obvious. Memory, in its various forms, plays an active part in such searches and the present book stands as proof of this fact.

Moments of social, political and cultural change such as the fall of communism in 1989 offer good occasions for this sort of exercise, as they usually involve ?rewritings of history? and, subsequently, reconfigurations of memory and reorientations of discourse concerning the past. The most visible aspect of this tendency is the reinscribing of memory with the help of monuments or memorial plaques, the renaming of places and streets, the changes in the calendar of various celebrations. At times, old discourse bearing the sound of foreknown issues can be heard in new contexts. In other cases, on the contrary, they emerge as suddenly polished and doctored with new rhetoric, regardless of the fact that the voices that utter them are the same old voices, well known from before. Echoes of public discourse certainly affect the much more personalised field of the retelling of one?s own life story. However, a recounted life is an attempt to give coherence to a biography that time has often ravished and which, as a contemporary assessment, has a provisional nature.