Mothers and Daughters in the Digital Private Era: Review of “A Life Sentence: Victims, Offenders, Justice And My Mother” by Samantha Broun and Jay Allison and “Mariya” by Mariya Karimjee, Kaitlin Prest, and Mitra Kaboli.
The conditions of contemporary soundwork have sparked an extraordinary flowering of intimate storytelling, much of it told by women. Freed from the bonds of technology, scale, and forms of support and distribution that keep traditional radio relentlessly mainstream, the new “digital privacy” of the last fifteen years has allowed new kinds of stories to be told: or rather, has allowed some of the oldest stories in the world to finally be spoken aloud. In both “Mariya” and “A Life Sentence” sexual violence against women is portrayed in all its complexity, tragedy, and terrible familiarity.
In “A Life Sentence,” Samantha Broun confronts the rape and brutalisation of her mother Jeremy that occurred two decades earlier, and the personal and public consequences that radiated out from it, partially through her own actions as a loving daughter. Broun’s and Allison’s skillful and compelling interweaving of the personal and political throughout this nearly hour-long piece makes for a hypnotically engaging experience. In “Mariya,” Mariya Karimjee relates the physical and emotional consequences of the genital mutilation inflicted on her by her loving mother, also a victim of the practice, and what that means for both of them. More meditation than documentary, this story is told with a dreamlike yet matter-of-fact intensity by its author, who reads from a previously published account. Both stories plunge us into the dark complexities of power and victimisation, innocence and complicity, love and pain. Mothers and daughters: in this era of the digital private, radio 3.0, now their stories can be told.