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Identities of Migration

A Narrative-based Approach to the Studies of Social Representation


Débora Amaral da Costa

This book reflects upon the main methodologies used in the studies of representation in the context of migration to suggest new alternatives in which narratives are regarded as part of the corpus. The book looks at social and linguistic representations shared by Haitian immigrants in Rio de Janeiro, through short narratives. The results are part of different identity projections. This book provides data that helps in the development of new methodologies in researches about representation and integrates them into identity studies. The analysis of the information shows that representations change during the migration process and that identities assumed by the subjects contribute to maintenance or changes in these representations.

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8. Frames, Forgetfulness, and Silence as Spaces for the Construction of Identities


“O senhor sabe o que o silêncio é? É a gente mesmo, demais.”57

Abstract: Memory is a historical, sociocultural, collective and individual construction. In this sense, memory is an essential element for social or collective identity and memory construction is frequently associated with identity construction. Silence and forgetting are present in some narrative fragments. They are explained based on the assumption that memories are the vehicle to other memories. Nonetheless, this vehicle is not neutral. It is made of stories listened and elaborated by the subject. In this chapter, I observe the importance of silence and forgetting as strategies in the process of negotiation of identities. The secrecy detected in some fragments of the narratives is an attempt to forget some traces of identities associated with negative stereotypes. Paralinguistic elements contribute to the construction of the meaning in the discourses analyzed. Hesitation, pauses and silence help to develop new identities after migration, by forgetting collective cultural symbols linked to failure and suffering.

Keywords: Frames; Silence; Forgetfulness; Paralinguistic features.

According to Lakoff (2010), every word evokes a frame that corresponds to a network of relationships between ideas. Consequently, the words defined within a specific frame will evoke and strengthen it. Interviewee 1 exemplifies this information when he says, in one of his accounts, that whenever he talks to Brazilians, they mention the hurricane that hit the country in 2010. This immigrant believes that every time a Brazilian hears the words “Haiti” and “Haitian...

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