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Narrating fragile stories about HIV/AIDS in South Africa

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This article analyzes narratives about living with HIV/ AIDS amid stigma, using the notion of “fragile stories” to further detail the linguistic practices through which people narrate experiences in danger of not being told. The article is based on fieldwork in 2008 in Durban, South Africa with a Zulu gospel choir in which all group members are living with HIV/AIDS. Close analysis of recorded narratives demonstrates how institutional story frameworks and the normative performance of gender helped storytellers to breach boundaries drawn by stigma. The article consolidates research on narrative tellability and fragile stories, verbal art, and stigma. The article has implications for research amid stigma, advocating linguistic analysis of narrative to emphasize the relationship between stories told and life events involving stigmatization.
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Keywords: HIV/AIDS; South Africa; Zulu; fragile stories; narrative; stigma; verbal art

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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