The Political Psychology of Personal Narrative: The Case of Barack Obama
Guided by theories of narrative identity, racial identity development, and Freire's (1970) notion of conscientização, this paper presents an interpretive analysis of Barack Obama's personal narrative. Obama's narrative represents a progressive story of self-discovery in which he seeks to develop a configuration of identity ( Erikson, 1959 ; Schachter, 2004 ) that reconciles his disparate contexts of development and the inherited legacy of racism and colonialism. A major theme of his story centers on his quest to discover an anchor for his identity in some community of shared practice. Ultimately, he settles on a distinctly cosmopolitan identity in which he can foster conversation across axes of difference both within himself and among diverse communities. I discuss the extent to which election of a candidate with this personal narrative of cosmopolitan identity reflects a shifting master narrative of identity politics within the United States, as well as implications for Obama's policy platform and governance style.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 1, 2010