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Whose story is it?

kwyly's picture

After reading Thrice Told Tale and discussing the importance of different retellings of the story, I wanted to further investigate the process of documenting a story. In the case of this collection, this story was chosen to be told by people outside of the community. As we discussed in class, community memebers did not express interest in telling the story of Mrs. Tan. Researchers outside of the community decided that this was a relevant story to tell; based on its appeal because of drama and suspense, it makes an interesting story to write about. Readers of these accounts have three different ways of thinking about Mrs. Tan, but all three stories relay information that presents an image of chaos and community disruption. Mrs. Tan's story is probably not the story that memebers of this community would want to share with others. This incident does not represent the entire community and is not a way of sharing stories that represent a more accurate and informed picture of this society. Researchers, writiers, and other documenters enjoy positions of power because they allow themselves to enter an existing community or situation and choose what they would like to write about. They can afford to write what they want and express what they see because often, they are not the ones who put a part of their identity on the line for criticism. Although maybe others disagree with the way Margery Wolf documents the findings, what readers focus on most is the content of the stories. Because of this, readers are presented with a few perspectives on the same events in a village; this even represents the single story, although told in different ways, of this community. This story was not chosen by the community and does not incorporate what they would like to share or consider valuable about themselves. Because of this repeated pattern of others choosing what to document, different perspectives are constructed that leave out what the community memebers themselves want to say. This pattern is constant and exists throughout regions and disciplines; it is necessary to help everyone find ways to express themselves and share what they want to say about their own lifestyles. Encouraging writing and other forms of self expression in all places helps allow this process and validate individuals' opinions.


JBacchus's picture

I think it's interesting

I think it's interesting because in class Thursday we talked about how this book/study/whatever you want to call it was part of a new wave to tell a culture's story, but really in the end, Wolf basically told her story of a culture's story - by allowing her researcher to choose the topic rather than the community. I dont see this as inclusion of other culture's but rather of exclusion (I liked Alice's word) and almost further separation from misconception.

alesnick's picture

persistent pattern of excluding community stories: what to do??

This is a rich post.  I wonder how you see education speaking to the need to foster writing and other forms of self-expression/storytelling. Is this part of your philosophy of education?  Also, how does this problem speak to your Anthro studies.  What are the implications of your insights for researchers?  For the very project of research?