La Trobe
2 files

"I lived for the postcards": an arts-based inquiry into experiences of mother-daughter separation and dislocation

posted on 2023-01-11, 13:42 authored by Janine Brophy-Dixon
Submission note: A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

This arts-based inquiry into my experience of mother-daughter separation and dislocation, unfolded as an emergent process and resulted in a bricolage of different methodologies. It includes heuristic and co-operative inquires, both arts-based. I focused on my experiences of separation from my daughter (who left home at 18 to live in Italy for 12 months) and from my mother (when I also left Australia to live alone in New York for 6 months). In order to make an arts-based inquiry into this experience, I created daily handmade postcards, sending them to my daughter in Italy and my mother in Australia, thus creating a data set of over four hundred postcards. The inquiry developed in two phases. Phase One presents four autoethnographic stories of my lived experience in New York. These stories are analysed using the listening guide (Gilligan, C., Spencer, R., Weinberg, M. K., and Bertsch, T., 2006). Phase One also developed themes from key words drawn from the postcards I sent to my daughter. Phase Two became a co-operative inquiry with my mother as co-researcher. We met weekly over a period of 5 months going through my postcards and her journal and then analysing and responding to these meetings. As a result of this process my mother and I experienced a surprising re-connection. The study found in depth understanding of our separation and dislocation, but also discovered forms of arts-based and co-operative inquiry that may have wider community applications in future arts and health projects.


Center or Department

Faculty of Health Sciences. School of Public Health.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


Rights Statement

The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over the content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

Data source

arrow migration 2023-01-10 00:15. Ref: latrobe:38048 (9e0739)

Usage metrics

    Open Theses


    No categories selected



    Ref. manager