home / congresses / SIEF2011

SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P217)

Shaping space through personal narrative

Location Tower A, Piso 3, Room 313
Date and Start Time 19 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenors

Susan Eleuterio (Company of Folk) email
Annie Knepler (Portland State University) email
Mail All Convenors

Short Abstract

This panel explores how community-based writing project participants narrate, create and recreate their everyday relationships to places they inhabit and how writing develops and highlights individual, group and community conceptions of place in the face of gentrification, conflict or migration.

Long Abstract

This forum examines how written expression can be used to develop and highlight individual, group and community conceptions of place in the face of gentrification, conflict or migration, despite sometimes isolating and alienating conditions of urban life. Our analysis, which focuses on writing and discussion in a community-based writing project for adults in Chicago, assumes that group participants write and speak from a situated context. The writing that comes out of the groups, particularly when it addresses topics and events from people's everyday experience, allows for multilayered and complex representations of the places in which participants live, work and interact. The writers are encouraged to self-represent, to tell their own stories as opposed to having their stories told by others (often the case in poor, urban areas), calling for an examination of both possibilities of self-representation and the complications involved in it. Folk culture, including people's sense of place, both shapes and is shaped by individuals and communities. We argue that folklorists and other ethnographers, through the creative exercise of writing, questioning, discussing and sharing their words with others, can assist members of those communities in examining how place has shaped their lives. Writing, along with other community arts, plays an important role in describing, and making sense of, the physical, social and virtual environments (places) that surround individual and community participants, potentially creating a stronger sense of connection to place. Writing can also be a tool in encouraging individuals and communities to validate their narrative and redefine their agency within their environment.

Chair: Annie Knepler
Discussant: Susan Eleuterio

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Antakahua: comment le territoire est construit?

Authors: Patricia Alvarez Quinteros (Université Catholique de Louvain)  email
Bianca De Marchi Moyano (Université Catholique de Louvain)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

Des témoignages des familles d’Antakahua expliquent certains processus historiques de configuration territoriale à Antakahua. Elle est une communauté trilingue bolivienne qui mise en évidence la complexité de la construction des espaces vécus dans un contexte culturel toujours changeante.

Long Abstract

Dans la communauté indigène d’Antakahua, il y a une douzaine de familles qui ont été interviewées et qui ont fourni d'informations sur leurs activités et aussi sur les lieux dont ils les effectuent. Ces témoignages enrichissent des données démographiques et productives de la recherche à travers des histoires de vie personnelle des habitants de la communauté. Cette information nous permet d’analyser la construction de l'espace personnel dans le cadre des dimensions temporelles et spatiales de leurs activités, cette analyse offre une meilleure compréhension du processus de configuration territoriale.

L’exercice est basé sur trois concepts clés : (a) le Territoire définie comme une construction sociale (b) l'Histoire comprise comme un discours qui a créé la mémoire du passé et (c) les activités quotidiennes que sont de stratégies de l'agence spatiale mise en place pour les sujets sociaux, mais qu’ont une charge symbolique. À l’intérieur de ce complexe système, sont remarquables certaines continuités en termes de rapports sociaux, tel que le cas de genre, dont l’exercice, fait incidence.

Nous proposons un regard sur la façon dont les les trois concepts clé en interagissent dans la vie quotidienne des personnes et en donnent origine à contextes sociaux, économiques et culturels de plus en plus complexes, dont il se trouve une forte relation duale et complémentaire entre le local et le global, en particulier dans le processus politique actuel de la Bolivie.

On the production and reproduction of narratives, social distinctions and community boundaries

Author: Ana Claudia Marques (University of São Paulo)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

Oral and written narratives produced in different social contexts (sertão of

Pernambuco and north of Mato Grosso, Brazil), will be analyzed so as to highlight

local modes of social inclusion, exclusion and distinctions, thus of the more or less fluid production of the community boundaries.

Long Abstract

The aim of this work is to analytically explore narratives which encompass constructions of local collective memories in two different social contexts - the Brazilian regions of Pajeú, in the dry lands of the state of Pernambuco, and Alto Teles Pires, in the state of Mato Grosso. The colonization of Pernambuco began in the late 18th century and was based on the opening of extensive livestock farms. In Mato Grosso, new settlements were formed from the 1970s onwards, and their fast development was connected to the establishment of the grain agribusiness.

The great interest of local actors in constructing a local history was noted during fieldwork in the two regions. In both cases, oral and written narratives suggest modes of reproducing the main local social distinctions. The forms and contents of the narratives in Pernambuco show how dominant segments see and create themselves through a kind of encompassment of notorious characters and extraordinary feats within the networks of local kinship. The narratives frequently construct genealogies through which well-known characters and feats are socially located. In Mato Grosso, however, genealogies are absent in the narratives, even though it is assumed that the heads of the families who came from the South of Brazil to settle are the ones responsible for the occupation and progress of the region. The analysis of both cases reveals an interesting discursive, spatial, social and political similarity concerning the relationship between an exclusive and excluding "society" and the other (one part of the local population).

Emigration from Croatia to Canada based on a woman's narrative

Author: Marijeta Rajkovic Iveta (University of Zagreb)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

A presentation provides a case study of trans-continental emigration through a story of a woman who immigrated from one Croatian village to Toronto (Canada). Emigration took place during the 1930s, and return migration occurred in 1990s.

Long Abstract

A presentation provides a case study of trans-continental emigration through a story of a woman who emigrated from one Croatian village to Toronto (Canada). Position of a woman within the family and a local community in her birthplace, in the private and public sphere, reveals that gender roles were given at birth and also implies to sexual symbolism in the first half of the 20th century.

When her husband left for Canada she stayed for some time in her birth place as a housewife within his numerous family. After making their final decision to move to Canada for good, she went there too. There is a comparative observation of the changes in her life upon her arrival in a big city where she lived in a nuclear family and became a worker. Her destiny, subjective and emotional experience of migration will be exemplified by interviews, family photos, letters and documents. During the 1990s she retired and came back to Croatia because she was home sick. The research of migrations proves that women were not in a focus of interest and that they were simply regarded as dependent and passive companions of male migrants. This presentation will contribute to better understanding of female perception of relocating and return.

Life histories as autobiographical spatialities

Author: Tiina-Riitta Lappi (Migration Institute of Finland)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

Integration of immigrants is usually talked about as integration to a society which in many ways can be seen as quite on abstract way to address integration. But immigration also refers to spatial relocation, people moving from one place to another (often through many other places and locations). This paper focuses on immigrants life histories analysed as autobiographical spatialities.

Long Abstract

People situate themselves in the past and the present (also to the future) both temporally and spatially. Life histories or personal narratives are usually analyzed in relation to temporally and socially varying contexts. The questions of how life histories relate to multiple spatialities or how people construct personal or collective spatialities in their narrations on everyday life have not received much attention. How do people narrate and verbalize their experiences in and on urban spaces? How do individual stories relate to wider societal contexts and understandings of urban spatiality and spatial practices? This paper is based on an ongoing study on Russian immigrants' experiences on integration in general and specifically on spatial integration. It is a part of a larger research project focusing on narratives on evacuees from Karelia, immigrant from Russia and Ingrian re-immigrants from the Soviet Union.

"Our stories heal our souls": place and home in newcomer women's writings

Author: Amy Skillman (Goucher College)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

Drawing on five years of Story Circles organized among refugee and immigrant women, the Voices writing project has been an opportunity for newcomer women to tell their stories, practice English, and explore the relationship between migration experiences and each woman's sense of home and place.

Long Abstract

Among newcomer populations, women continue to remain both silent and invisible. This paper examines the impact of a writing collaboration with PAIRWN, the Pennsylvania Immigrant and Refugee Women's Network. PAIRWN was created to honor and enhance the lives of refugee and immigrant women in Pennsylvania. They also strive to educate others about the cultures and contributions they bring to American communities. Since 2001, we have worked together to gather oral histories and conduct monthly Story Circles as a way to share narratives about women's experiences. After seeing their recorded interviews edited and transformed into compelling exhibitions and powerful theater scripts, these women requested a series of creative writing workshops to help them write their own stories with intention.

The workshops were facilitated by three local writers: a Native American poet and educator; an African American poet laureate; and a journalist/short story author who grew up hearing the stories of her Jewish immigrant parents from Poland. Using a variety of creative writing strategies, the women created poems, prose and short stories that have rooted them in their present homeland while connecting them to the places of their past. In doing so, they have found common ground between them. Embedded within the writing are explorations of family, home, and sense of place. These workshops provide an effective and engaging way to practice writing skills while learning to play with the English language. Primarily, the workshops have been about giving voice to under-represented populations. As one participant wrote, "Our stories heal our souls."

Folk culture, writing and sense of place

Author: Susan Eleuterio (Company of Folk)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

Folk culture, including a sense of place, both shapes and is shaped by individuals and communities. Folklorists and other ethnographers, through the creative exercise of writing, questioning, discussion and sharing can assist members of cultural communities in examining the role of place.

Long Abstract

Folk culture, including a sense of place, both shapes and is shaped by individuals and communities. Folklorists and other ethnographers, through the creative exercise of writing, questioning, discussion and sharing can assist members of cultural communities in examining the role of place. Writing, along with other community arts, plays an important role in describing, and making sense of the physical, social and virtual environments (places) that surround individual and community participants, potentially creating a stronger sense of connection to place. Writing can also be a tool in encouraging individuals and communities to redefine their agency within their environment.

Place is increasingly shaped by forces from the outside; gentrification, shifts in the economy, and globalization. Today, a personal sense of place has shifted from the physical to the virtual - you can be "in the same place" as someone on another continent through on-line conferencing and virtual gatherings. For those who exist along the margins of the "digital divide, " place has remained a more traditional concept. Memories of earlier, often more rural places, the impact of those places on belief systems along with personal responses to contemporary changes in place create powerfully written pieces which document how and why place matters. I will explore how folk culture influences the creative and emotional response of writers who participate in a community based writing program in Chicago in shaping and reshaping their place in the world and how cultural workers might examine personal narratives to increase their understanding of community definitions of place.

Making place: conflict, connection and community writing

Author: Annie Knepler (Portland State University)  email
Mail All Authors

Short Abstract

This presentation explores how participants in a community-based writing project in Chicago narrate, create, and recreate their everyday relationships to the places they inhabit.

Long Abstract

This presentation explores how participants in a community-based writing project in Chicago narrate, create, and recreate their everyday relationships to the places they inhabit. Combining textual analysis with my own observations as a participant-observer, I draw on scholarship in urban studies, public sphere theory, literacy and composition studies, rhetoric, sociology, and cultural studies.

The writing groups meet in public libraries and social service agencies in low-income areas. As the demographics of the city change, many of the sites where the groups meet are either in or on the verge of areas that have experienced gentrification. In a rapidly-changing city, where low-income neighborhoods are gentrifying, public housing units are disappearing, and new construction often replaces full blocks of buildings at a time, it is important to consider how those who are most easily displaced represent their relationship to place in their own words.

I focus on writing created in a group that met during the 1990s in a predominantly African American neighborhood, a neighborhood that was in the midst of transformation as public housing was being radically transformed and newer, more high-end homes were being constructed. These changes offered the possibility of new resources to residents who had suffered from poor housing, bad infrastructure, and a lack of amenities. However, they also raised the very real threats of possible displacement and the loss of long-standing neighbors. The writing demonstrates the various ways in which people connect to place, connections that are economic, social, emotional, complicated, and often conflicted.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.