Biographic Self Positioning As Narrated Argumentation

Friday, July 18, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: Booth 60
Oral Presentation
Noga GILAD , University of Haifa, Israel

One of the most inspiring struggles of biographic research regards the issue of ‘identity’: “how I have become to be who I am today!” (Fischer-Rosenthal, 1995) Scholars have struggled with biographer’s putting into words of self experiences that have accumulated along the life history as it has been generated (Rosenthal, 2004). Indeed, Biography is constituted by the interaction between the articulating of the experiencing of “the world out there” (Schutz, 1964), each being so rich deserving a research space of its own. Concentrating upon the initial ‘life story’ level I follow the inspiring toolkit Labov provided us with (Labov, 1972; 1997; 2003; 2004). His examples challenge our conventional thinking that fundamental difference exists between “narratives” and “arguments”. Instead we should consider ‘oral narration’ to be a specific type of argumentation about highly controversial settings as gendered biographies in transcultural settings.

Based upon his model my analysis shows how biographers, while conducting an external dialogue with their listener; re-positioning themselves over and over again in a hegemonic position in the interaction, are simultaneously preoccupied with an internal dialogue in which they try making sense their own experiencing of themselves in the world. In this way the question: “how have I become to be who I am today?!” gains new and dual meanings.

The transcultural context of the analysis not only extends between the interview interlocutors (secular vs. fundamentalist) but as the narrator is implicitly involved in a project with transcultural construction aspirations, aiming at ‘restoring tradition’ in a way that would appear as absolutely contemporary to the interviewer. And as the analysis shows, gender plays a crucial role in such a framework not only through the identity of the participants but within the subversive cultural project as a whole.