Narrative Accounts of Origins: A Blind Spot in the Intersectional Approach?

European Journal of Women's Studies 13 (3):277-290 (2006)
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Abstract

This paper uses a study of the life story narratives of former classmates of Dutch and Moluccan descent to argue that the constructionist approach to intersectionality, with its account of identity as a narrative construction rather than a practice of naming, offers better tools for answering questions concerning intersectional identity formation than a more systemic intersectional approach. The case study also highlights the importance of the quest for origins in narratives. It demonstrates that theories of intersectionality are unjustified in subsuming the issue of belonging under the identity marker of ethnicity, when all identities are performatively produced in and through narrative enactments that include belonging. Belongingness is a precarious achievement. The case study illustrates that if narrative accounts of a life fail to achieve narrative closure regarding roots, attempts to trace routes are seriously hampered.

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Baukje Prins
Utrecht University