Translating a national grand narrative into a personal biographies
Alternative biographies among siblings in everyday life
This article examines the connection between grand narratives and the creative ways that individuals translate them into personal biographies through a case study of a boarding school for gifted disadvantaged youth in Israel. To test the state’s grand narrative, I performed a content analysis of minutes of governmental protocols as well as organizational reports at the time the boarding school was established. The state grand narrative stresses the rescue of Jews from Arab countries by the leaders of the state and the linear Oriental-to-Occidental cultural development that these Jews must undergo in order to survive in modern life. To examine the question of how the grand narrative is translated into personal biographies, sixty graduates of the boarding school and thirty-two siblings who did not attend the boarding school were interviewed. The findings demonstrate that the graduates of the boarding school translated the grand narrative into a special narrative configuration known as the alternative biography, a concept that addresses the lifeworlds that, in the subjects’ judgment, might have characterized their lives under different circumstances. Further, the structure of this narrative points to one explicit alternative biography, that of the sibling who did not attend the boarding school. The disscusion chapter explores the phenomenological meanings of this singular narrative configuration.
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