Kavad: Kundiman Mother Tongues

Video by Jess X Chen

We do not enter this life as tabulae rasae; we are born with the ability to recognize our mother's voice. In utero we begin to hear the sounds basic to language.  As we grow, we internalize the rules and structures that turn sound into meaning. Mothers give us our means of discerning language; language gives us our means of knowing our world. Past documents and images can salvage only so much of this past.  To capture our mothers' narratives we must incorporate the ephemerality of memory through speech.  We must begin with her own words.  

Mother Tongues recovers diasporic narratives by chronicling the lives and experiences of mothers across three Asian American generations. Interviews, poetry and performances combine to form an archive that documents the triumphs and challenges of building lives in America.


Click here to access multimedia content, interview excerpts and poetry.