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Black Women and Narratives of Resilience, Revised Edition


Robin Boylorn

Sweetwater: Black Women and Narratives of Resilience is a multi-generational story of growing up black and female in the rural south. At times heartbreaking, at times humorous, Sweetwater captures the artistry, strength, language and creativity shared by first-hand accounts of black women in small-town North Carolina during the twentieth century. The book uncovers the versatility and universality of black women’s experiences and their exceptional capacity to love in the face of adversity, and hope in the midst of calamity. Sweetwater is about the black female experience as it relates to friendship, family, spirituality, poverty, education, addiction, mental illness, romantic relationships, and everyday survival. The merging themes show the resilience and resistance that black women exhibit while negotiating the intersecting oppressions of racism, classism, and sexism.

Written from field notes and memory, the author reveals the complexities of black women’s lived experiences by exposing the communicative and interpersonal choices black women make through storytelling. Narrative inquiry and black feminism are offered as creative educational tools for discussing how and why black women’s singular and interior lives are culturally and globally significant.

This revised edition preserves the original narratives but features new content including re-views, re-visions and re-considerations for re-writing autoethnography.

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Appendix A: Method(ologies) How (And Why) I Collected Data


← 182 | 183 →


  Appendix A: Method(ologies)

How (And Why) I Collected Data

Methods are means or techniques for conducting research; they are one’s plan of action for getting a particular research task done. Methodologies, on the other hand, are the underlying principles, assumptions, and rules that inform methods. Methods are tools; methodologies are world views. –Marsha Houston, 2000, p. 675

Zora Neale Hurston says that “research is a formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with purpose” (Walker, 1979, p. 49). I conducted research nonconsecutively for three years. I poked and pried by using various methods including autoethnography, ethnography (participant observation), interactive interviewing, informal focus groups, and traditional archival research to collect stories and other information about the small town referred to in this book as Sweetwater, North Carolina. I interacted with participants and joined them in their various daily activities during the summer months of 2006, and holidays, vacations, and various trips to the research site from the early spring of 2006 through the spring of 2008. I did extensive observation during events where the extended and immediate family joined to reminisce and tell shared stories about their experiences. This happened particularly during Christmas and New Year’s gatherings in 2006 ← 183 | 184 → and 2007, a fiftieth birthday celebration for my mother in 2006, a birthday celebration for my grandmother in 2006 (where attendees were invited to share a memory of growing up), and following Sunday dinners.


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