'The prologue of my story' - positioning of selves in re-told migration stories

Linda Bäckman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Narratives have been identified as particularly interesting data for the study of identity; as the speaker can be both a character in the story and the teller at the moment of telling, there is a 'doubling of roles' that permits evaluation and positioning through what is presented in the story on one hand, and how it is told on the other (cf Wortham 2001). Recent theories and approaches around narrative have, however, prioritised stories of personal experience as data for the study of identity, thus implicitly marking birth as the starting point ofan individual's life story. This paper draws on data from a study of language and identity among adults whose parents were migrants. Two migration stories, told by 18-year-old Farah and 33-year-old Gabriela, whose parents were refugees from Iraq and Chile respectively, are used to illuminate particular points on how positioning takes place in stories about events and experiences that took place before the birth of the teller. In the stories, Farah and Gabriela foreground characteristics of their parents that reflect their own individual values and attitudes, as well as collective identifications of the family. A linguistic analysis of the stories thus illuminates the processes of identity positioning in these re-told stories. The paper suggests an expansion of current theories to embrace stories about the family as 'semi-autobiographical'.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Title of host publicationIdentity in Communicative Contexts
EditorsKamila Ciepiela
PublisherPeter Lang
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-631-69423-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-631-66661-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeA3 Part of a book or another research book

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