This article explores one of Jane Austen's narrative techniques, focusing on her characters' telling of and writing on their past. To incorporate events that characters experienced at different times or locations, she uses life stories constructed by an individual told in the first person. She relies on the characters' subjective telling of their own life stories at crucial points in the plot, rather than leaving the description to the omniscient narrator. In so doing, she provides fresh ways of reading; she enables the reader to get involved in the narrative by sharing an individual's life story and at the same time she ensures that the reader places the character's narrative at some distance. Her use of this method of stories allows her to follow and develop literary tradition. Inheriting the tradition of the letter-writing generations, she provides a new use of life-story telling and a new way of reading them.
Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild
Melanie Ilic, Life Stories of Soviet Women: The Interwar Generation
Marianna Muravyeva and Natalia Novikova, eds., Women’s History in Russia: (Re)Establishing the Field
Francesca Stella, Lesbian Lives in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia
Leslie Paul Thiele and Marshall Young
Practical judgment can be developed from a wide variety of life experiences upon one condition: the experiences in question are made meaningful through stories. By placing lived experience in narrative form one gains a flexible guide for action. Calculative analysis may usefully supplement, but cannot supplant, narrative knowledge for the decision-maker grappling with the ‘wicked problems’ of social and political life. There is no obvious, or perhaps even feasible, way to determine what constitutes the kind of story that will improve practical judgment and allow for better decisions. It is less the content of stories that requires attention than the process of narrative inquiry, interaction and understanding.
Methods and Forms of Collaboration in the Anthropology of Public Policy
Tara Schwegler and Michael G. Powell
We never seek out frustration, but it almost always finds us. Seasoned field researchers, anthropologists pride themselves on their ability to handle life’s curve balls, from visa problems to cultural misunderstandings to difficulties in gaining access to informants. These curve balls go hand in hand with the home runs: all are moments in fieldwork, wherever, however, and among whomever conducted, and each moment has a story.
Withheld Stories and the Limits of Ethnographic Knowability
How to write about survival? How to tell survival? By exploring manifold reasons to withhold a story, I shed light on the limits of ethnographic knowledge production and the politics of storytelling that mobilize one story and silence another. Through engaging with the fragmented narrative of a Moroccan survivor of a shipwreck in Spanish waters in 2003, I reconceptualize the movement called “migration as survival” by theorizing it as an ethnographic concept. I explore the different temporalities of survival as living through a life-threatening event and as living on in an unjust world. These interrelated temporalities of survival are embedded in the afterlife of the historical time of al-Andalus and the resurgent fear of the Muslim “Other.” By suggesting an existentially informed political understanding of the survival story, I show how the singularity of the survivor is inscribed in a regime of mobility that constrains people and their stories.
The Social Life of Dream Stories within the Hizmet-AKP Conflict in Turkey
Building on ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul in 2015, this article traces how certain people within the Hizmet community drew on dream stories to understand and manoeuvre within the escalating falling-out with the AKP government. It suggests that, in this context, dream stories were circulated within the community to reframe the conflict against the horizon of the afterlife but prevented from spilling into the wider public sphere out of fear that Hizmet critics would use dream stories to denounce the community as a threat to Turkish republican tradition. The article thus proposes to see the social life of dream stories as a ‘politics from below’ through which relations between the religious and the political refracted and notions of national and religious belonging were negotiated and contested.
Why We Should Be Careful about the Stories We Use to Tell Other Stories
Within the field of climate change adaptation research, “stories” are usually simply mined for data, developed as communication and engagement technologies, and used to envision different futures. But there are other ways of understanding people’s narratives. This article explores how we can move away from understanding stories as cultural constructs that represent a reality and toward understanding them as the way in which adaptation is lived. The article investigates questions such as the following: As climate adaptation researchers, what can and should we do when we are told unsolicited stories? How can storytelling, as a way of life rather than as a source of data, inform and elaborate scientific approaches to adaptation research and planning? In this article, I move away from the literature that seeks to develop narrative methods in adaptation science. Instead, I focus on stories that we do not elicit and the world-making practice of storytelling.
This article compares the trickster stories of Anishinaabeg (Ojibwes) and Ininiw (Cree) people, specifically the Swampy Cree or Omushkegowak, in northern Canada. Focusing on one storyteller from each culture—Omushkego Louis Bird from the west coast of James Bay and Anishinaabe William Berens from the east coast of Lake Winnipeg—the article demonstrates that the long-term practice of telling sacred stories taught Indigenous peoples how to survive and thrive in their harsh environments. Although Omushkego stories highlight the importance of individual resourcefulness for survival, stories from both cultures emphasize that people should live together in communities to achieve the best life. The article also emphasizes the importance of appreciating local distinctiveness, listening carefully to Indigenous voices, and seeking guidance from Indigenous people.
Alexander von Plato, Almut Leh and Christopher Thonfeld, eds., Hitler’s
Slaves: Life Stories of Forced Labourers in Nazi-Occupied Europe (New York:
Berghahn Books, 2010)
Frank Biess and Robert Moeller, eds., Histories of the Aftermath: The Legacies
of the Second World War in Europe (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010)
Helmi Mäelo, Eesti naine läbi aegade: naise osa Eesti ühiskondlikus ja rahvuslikus arengus (The Estonian woman through time: the role of women in Estonian social and national development), Tallinn: Varrak, 1999, 287 pp., 122 EEK (hb) ISBN 9985-3-0276-1
Sirje Tamul, ed., Vita academica, vita feminea (Academic Life, Women’s Life), Tartu: Tartu University Press, 1999, 271 pp., ISBN 9985-56-460-X
Tiina Kirss, Ene Kõresaar and Marju Lauristin, eds., She Who Remembers Survives. Inter- preting Estonian Women’s Post-Soviet Life Stories, Tartu: Tartu University Press, 2004, 346 pp., ISBN 9985-56-835-4