With Life in One's Lap

Cheryl Mattingly and Linda C. Garro

in Narrative and the Cultural Construction of Illness and Healing

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780520218246
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935228 | DOI:
With Life in One's Lap

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This chapter interweaves autobiography with material from the author's ethnographic research in order to examine the complicated relationship between illness narratives, illness experience, and personal identity. The author uses the stories to comment about the surprises of illness and how it speaks to a person's sense of self and to raise a series of critical questions about narrative theory. It also critiques the predominance of the “I” in many autobiographical and life story accounts of illness.

Keywords: autobiography; ethnographic research; illness narratives; illness experience; personal identity; sense of self; narrative theory

Chapter.  11390 words. 

Subjects: Medical Anthropology

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