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“I am an adult now”

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This narrative-based study employs membership categorization analysis to address the following question: How does a victim of abuse formulate and manage various categories and related descriptive details to story past trauma in ways that bring about new endings or insights in the present? Drawing on data taken from a larger research project on immigrant identity, the analysis centers on a Cambodian-Vietnamese man’s narrative of childhood abuse and adulthood confrontation. It shows how the teller, by recalibrating person (e.g., ‘father-son’, ‘victim-abuser’), age (e.g., ‘young-old’), place (e.g., ‘North America-Vietnam’), and other categorial resources, re-stories people and events and their psycho-social and moral inferences and outcomes. By tracing how this narrative teller reconstitutes himself from ‘victim’ to ‘hero’, this study offers insight into how a local interactional event (e.g., a research interview) may be transformed into a therapeutic exchange. Insights for therapeutic (re)storying, narrative research, and second language (L2) research are discussed.

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Keywords: abuse; categorization; discourse; immigrants; interviews; narrative; re-storying

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 22, 2019

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