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Adjusting to new “truths”: The relation between the spatio-temporal context and identity work in repeated WWII-testimonies

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

In this article, we study the diachronic (re)construction of repeated WWII-testimonies. Specifically, we scrutinize how shifting master narratives in the social context may affect how stories are told in a particular time and place. We selected testimonies by two Belgian concentration camp survivors – one Flemish and one Walloon – who both wrote down their story twice, namely in 1946 and 1985. By comparing the “same” diachronically dispersed stories – thus addressing the temporal dimension – and the differences in the narrators’ regional background – thus incorporating the spatial dimension – we study how overlapping and differing storytelling environments influenced the narratives’ construction. In the analyses, we adopt an interactional-sociolinguistic approach to illustrate the storytelling environments’ influence upon the story formulations and the relativity of what is presented as the “truth”, since the narrators continuously adjusted their stories and identities to fit with the ever-evolving storytelling context.
Journal: Narrative Inquiry
ISSN: 1387-6740
Issue: 2
Volume: 29
Pages: 268 - 292
Publication year:2019