chapter  7
17 Pages

Cultural Geography and the Retheorisation of Sociolinguistic Space


In preparing this chapter I found myself asking how I became interested in its topic. The answer lies in a series of seminars on narrative in which I was involved in the early 2000s, whose focus might loosely be called explorations in post-Labovian narrative theory. One seminar, with a focus on identity, shaped some of the contributions to the volume Discourse and Identity (De Fina, Schi rin and Bamberg, 2006). Another seminar, on the topic of narrative in time and space, became half a theme issue in Narrative Inquiry (cf. Baynham, 2003; De Fina, 2003; Galasinska, 2003; Georgakopoulou, 2003) and shaped the book which Anna De Fina and I edited on Narratives of Dislocation (Baynham and De Fina, 2005). As I will discuss later, it was through an e ort to retheorise Labov’s orientation category, in his writing on narrative, that I became interested in cultural geography. But why narrative? This had been the topic of my doctoral research in the 1980s, a topic which I left aside during the 1990s, years spent in Sydney, when my research concentrated primarily on literacy studies. I returned to the topic when I came back to the UK in the 2000s. It was at this point that I realized the radical unanswerability of the question that had informed my doctoral fi eldwork: “what made you come to England?” As I myself answered a similar question (“What made you leave Sydney and come back to England?”) which was asked over and over again, often in incredulous tones on my return to England from Australia, this became an object lesson on how narratives shape and reshape reality. For each questioner, each audience, the story was told/is told in subtly di erent ways, sometimes as a small, allusive narrative in the sense that Bamberg and Georgakopoulou (2008) have identifi ed, a transitory conversational moment, sometimes a larger, baggier story, more copious in detail, more revealing.