Baldwin, Clive (2006) The Narrative Dispossession of People Living with Dementia: Thinking About the Theory and Method of Narrative. In: Narrative, Memory & Knowledge: Representations, Aesthetics, Contexts. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, pp. 101-109.

In the beginning …
Once upon a time …
This is the story of …
That’s a good story ….
And they all lived ….
Let me tell you a story ….
Narrative, it seems, is all around us. Bruner (2002) states that we are
‘constantly in the process of making narratives’ (p.3) and that narrative is so
much part and parcel of life that ‘human society cannot run without it’. In
everyday life we recount stories about ourselves and others and in so doing
both represent and construct ourselves. We are the heroes and heroines of our
own stories and occasionally of the stories of others. Our experience, lives and
Selves are storied. In academia narrative has also found a place not only in the
humanities but also the social sciences and even the natural sciences. It would
seem there is no escape from participation in the narrative enterprise - it is a
way of experiencing, relating, thinking and, ultimately, being in the world.
Narrative, as Barthes (1977) said, ‘is simply there, like life itself’ (p.79).
To be sure, the development of narrative as a theory and method has
brought (or constructed) insights into all manner of things. Narrative, emerging
as it did from an interest in the experience of powerlessness (MacKinnon,
1996), was seen as a means of giving voice to those previously at the margins
and has effectively, and prolifically, expanded our understanding of what it is
like to be marginalised, oppressed, victimised, ignored and silenced. But even
as this is so, it is my contention, contra Barthes, that narrative and the process
of narration (narrativity) as we currently conceive and operationalise it
excludes certain individuals and groups of people, creating people without
narrative. These people are those I shall call the ‘narratively dispossessed’. In
the first part of this paper I will seek to outline what I mean by this and work
towards a tentative definition. In the latter part I will attempt to suggest some
ways in which we might try to think about narrative/narrativity somewhat
differently so as to narratively ‘re-possess’ these individuals and groups.

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