The play of identities in Cypriot-Australian family storytelling

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Abstract

This article adopts a microanalytic approach to examine storytelling as a co-construction by family members in a Cypriot-Australian family. Previous studies on family storytelling have focused on the various roles of family members in storytelling with a means of studying family socialization (Miller et al., 1990; Ochs & Taylor, 1992; Blum-Kulka, 1997). These studies used critical discourse analysis, socioculturel theories, performance and pragmatic approaches to storytelling. This article offers a distinctive approach to family storytelling by examining the discourse and social identities that family members display during the storytelling. The data originate in a study that involves interviews with three generations of Greek-Australian and Cypriot-Australian women regarding their relationships with each other. In this paper we investigate the contributions of the father and the daughters in the course of the mother's turn at storytelling. The first part of the analysis focuses on the husband's discourse identities as a contributor, initiator and elicitor of his wife's storytelling. During the storytelling we also observe the production and exchange of different social identities between the husband and the mother, such as the 'unwilling suitor', the 'embarrassed schoolgirl' or the 'forceful but teasing husband'. The second part describes how the daughters take part in their mother's storytelling, producing a variety of identities such as the 'impatient mother', the 'complaining', 'happy', or 'good' mothers and daughters. These investigations succinctly illustrate how narratives become a resource for members' 'display' and 'play' of identities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-362
Number of pages28
JournalNarrative Inquiry
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001
Externally publishedYes

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