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Southern Sudanese Narratives of Displacement, and the Ambiguity of “Voice”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2015

Abstract

Refugee life stories have developed as a popular medium for attempting to portray southern Sudanese wartime experience. These narratives of war and exile have been told, edited and published in what has become an explanatory industry in refugee work worldwide. The development of this economy of life stories from the early 1980s, however, has encouraged the propagation of standardized displaced “life stories” as a discrete narrative genre. This article traces the formulation of this distinctive style of historical explanation and argues that this genre, while claiming emancipatory agency and “voice” for marginalized people, has instead become a narrative trap.

Résumé

Les récits de vie de refugiés se sont développés comme un moyen populaire pour raconter l’expérience du sud Soudan en tant de guerre. Ces histoires de guerre et d’exil ont été dites, modifiées et publiées devenant ainsi une véritable industrie pour le travail d’explication des refugiés à travers le monde. Le développement de cette économie de récits depuis le début des années 1980, a cependant encouragé la propagation et standardisation de “récits de vie” de populations déplacées en créant un genre littéraire à part entière. Cet article retrace l’histoire de la formulation de ce style distinct d’explication historique et suggère que ce genre littéraire, malgré sa prétention à donner un pouvoir et une “parole” émancipateurs à ses auteurs marginalisés, est devenu en fait un piège narratif.

Type
Critical Historiography
Copyright
Copyright © African Studies Association 2015 

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