Studies in Symbolic Interaction: Volume 24

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Table of contents

(21 chapters)

In this article I draw from my life experiences to show how telling an exile's life story reflects a search for identity within one's memory. I also compare and contrast my experiences to the postmodern world of displacement and point to the vital role of interaction in identity formation and maintenance. I posit that there is no self without an other. Indeed, without Other, Being ends.

In this narrative I capture part of my first year experience in the doctoral sociology program at the University of Chicago. I analyze entries from my U of C journal, recorded during the 1992–93 academic year, paying special attention to discussions regarding race and interracial interactions. I focus on “The Sid Cartwright Incident”—a negative encounter with a white professor —to elucidate ways in which race penetrated my everyday existence and pressed me to define sometimes ambiguous interracial interactions as unpleasant racial encounters. I reveal the complex and contradictory ways that my past experiences with racism and discrimination may have distorted my thinking about interracial encounters and at the same time invigorated my determination to move beyond those encounters. I conclude with a discussion of the cumulative impact of negative interracial encounters on African Americans.

This chapter presents an interpretive study of the biracial experience in contemporary America. Twenty adolescents and young adults, who have one Black parent and one White parent, participated in life history interviews exploring their lifelong racial experiences and the creative nature of self. The cultural isolation of living betwixt and between racial categories initiates an existential journey of self-reflection and identity adjustment. Several themes in their lives are repeated: the experience of oneself as something other than an assigned racial identity, a tension between internally perceived and externally imposed definitions of self, the desire to be authentic in one's self definitions, and the will to create one's own racial identity. To resolve the dilemmas of race, the biracial individual moves from an encapsulated to a constructive self. The biracial experience of negating conventional racial formations offers the possibility of a more universal meaning of race.

This is an ethnographic narrative describing a subculture from different perspectives and the process of achieving membership by a neophyte: Andy. The narrators tell their tale (cf. Smith, 1993) to the audience (be it a live audience or a distant academic audience through the printed version of this narrative).The fledgling member, Andy recounts his learning experiences in becoming a member of the racing subculture. Kirk, an ‘sold timer’ of these events, fills in the details about the past and present context and history of Bonneville Speed Week. Finally, Andy, in his academic role as Dr. Fontana, (role played by a graduate student in the live version), acts as the “Greek Chorus”, providing a commentary concerning the sociological insights to be found in this narrative.

“Hurricanes” is an autoethnographic narrative account of conversations between a husband and wife in the weeks leading up to their separation. The primary theme explored in the narrative is the cyclic nature of relational communication and the patterns that emerged during this couple's conflict about their marriage. The narrative provides a detailed description of the couple's conversations and emotions as they attempt to define and make sense of their relationship. In its conclusion, the chapter discusses the writing process and frames the narrative within a broader context of relational research.

Although interest in the emotional aspects of practicing ethnography has increased in recent years, little attention has been paid to how the fieldworker's feelings express and are embedded in the research process. This chapter, based on an analysis of the authors' fieldnotes, examines how the researcher's changing experiences of ethnographic space, self, and stance are rooted in the emotional dynamics of doing fieldwork. We conclude by discussing the implications these shifts pose for fieldwork practice.

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Studies in Symbolic Interaction
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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