Special Issue of Narrative Culture
This introductory essay outlines a perspective on political narratives that moves beyond a narrow understanding and highlights the reception of political narratives in everyday contexts and conceptualizations of political spheres in everyday narratives of the political. It offers distinct perspectives of (1) narrative as practice and ontology, i.e. the view that telling and receiving stories are universal modes of mediating (political) views; (2) narrative as strategy, i.e. the intentional or automatic use of narrative to further relatively specific goals; and (3) narrative as method, i.e. as an analytic approach to socio-political realities in academia. The essays in this special issue show how political narratives are interpreted, modified and co-constructed in everyday stories and as part of popular narratives, and how political processes and structures are framed in everyday narratives.
Drawing on an ethnographic and discourse-analytic study, I examine the meaning and function of narrative in the civic engagement of volunteers who provided humanitarian aid to refugees during the migratory movements of 2015. I argue that a group of self-organized volunteers in a medium-sized German town employed different kinds of narrative during their engagement to advance their own views on the migratory movements and on voluntary work with refugees. Moreover, a collective narrative in terms of a cognitive structure evolved during the event that shaped the relationship between the volunteers and authorities.
From a country of emigrants, Italy has become a receiver of migrants. These reverse direction migratory flows have triggered strong reactions by Italians, such as nativist discourses about national culture and identity and the aggressive, exclusionary, anti-immigration politics promoted by the Lega Nord (the ‘Northern League’) political party. This article explores how Veneto ordinary speakers’ political narratives are at times performed in ways that totally or partially exclude certain groups, such as migrants, while creating collective and intimate spaces for speakers living in Veneto, Northern Italy. In their stories, both storytellers and audience members participate in the co-construction of their social, political, and cultural identities in interaction while their storytelling event unfolds.
Statements by politicians on Russia’s unity and stability are omnipresent. This article deals with people’s daily narratives by focusing on the legacies of the Great Patriotic War in the city of Kaliningrad, the previous Königsberg. In this endeavor, the article explores the ‘immortal troop project’, an alternative march to the official militaristic parade on 9 May, which is devoted to the remembrance of people’s fate during the war. However, it will be argued that only by taking into account people’s personal relationship to the city’s materiality the narratives’ diversity and their potential as political counter narratives becomes visible. My arguments are based on long-term fieldwork, which I conducted between 2015 and 2017.
Political scientists have discovered that most political categories (political authority, democratic legitimacy, identity building) are closely linked with the concept of narrative. We demonstrate the relevance of narrative analysis in politics by analyzing two cases of urban riots (Paris 2005, Baltimore 2015). We propose a micro-oriented perspective that focuses on people’s everyday life experiences and cultural practices of storytelling. The analysis also dissects state narratives, which discredit protests through the language of criminality. Our cases show that sudden violence in urban riots is oftentimes a desperate expression of marginalized voices articulating moral claims of justice, particularly concerning everyday racism.
Groth, Stefan. 2019. „Political Narratives / Narrations of the Political. An Introduction“. Herausgegeben von Stefan Groth. Narrative Culture 6 (1). Special Issue: Political Narratives / Narrations of the Political: 1–18. doi:10.13110/narrcult.6.1.0001. Peer Reviewed. (Details →) ↩︎