Displaced Stories: The Interplay of Telling and Being in the Face of Displacement

Lems, Annika (September 2015). Displaced Stories: The Interplay of Telling and Being in the Face of Displacement (Unpublished). In: Worlds of Violence: 9th Pan European Conference on International Relations. Naxos-Giardini, Sicily. 23-26.09.2015.

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Throughout the last decades, narrative approaches have become quintessential tools for understanding crisis and displacement. While a focus on individual stories allows for a deep look into the particularity of being-displaced, it simultaneously runs the risk of romanticising the outcome (the life story) of what is indeed the product of a rather complex process (the telling of the life story). In this paper I will discuss a change of perspectives: Rather than laying the focus on life stories as texts, I will suggest to shift the attention towards the existential dynamics of storytelling. By zooming in on my longstanding collaboration with a Somali woman in Melbourne, Australia, I will map out the interplay of telling and being that marked this process. Focusing on one particular storytelling moment, I will suggest the importance of appreciating the intersubjective force of storytelling. Rather than melting the set of stories into a coherent “life story”, I will look at the storytelling moment in its lived messiness. In doing so, I will sketch out its potential to shed light both on the teller’s hopes, imaginations and ambitions, and on the reality of being part of a wider world that often contradicts and shatters these hopes.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Lems, Annika


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology


[1360] Transnational Biographies of Education




Annika Lems

Date Deposited:

23 Mar 2016 11:02

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2020 11:31



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