Standardized relational pairs in interviews with former slaves
Construction, negotiation and alignment
We investigate the use of standardized relational pairs (SRPs) and the way narrators align with these in two interviews with former slaves which were conducted in the 1940s. In particular, we look at stories in which slaves are compared to animals, thus not only invoking the SRP master/slave, but also the SRP owner/property. On the one hand, the interviewees negotiate their alignment with the ‘slave-property’-part of the SRP depending on the type of story that is told, which is based on the narrator’s personal involvement. On the other hand, the slave owners remain noticeably absent throughout these stories and by rendering this part of the SRP almost invisible, the development of another SRP, namely that of perpetrator/victim, is avoided. As such, through these SRPs, the hegemonic order of the slave system is (re)constructed in these stories, while the interviewees’ shifting alignment with them shows an orientation to personal face concerns.