"I'm Proud to be a Bajan": Embedding the Storied Self

Jef Van der Aa

University of Toronto, Belgium


In how far are narratives embedded in surrounding discourse and social activity? To answer such a question would require a dimensional approach to narrative itself. Ochs and Capps distinguish the embeddedness of narratives as one of these dimensions and argue that degrees of embeddedness can be identified at certain points of continua. (2001:35) Other dimensions of narratives include tellership, tellability, linearity and moral stance.

In this paper, I will focus on the dimension of embeddedness and analyze a recording of a classroom activity on the Caribbean island of Barbados around Independence day. Children had been singing songs about their nation all morning. In that context, several personal narratives and “voices” took shape. Walking freely around the classroom and talking to the kids, I was able to record snippets of these conversations.

My aim is to show the relative embeddedness of these personal narratives in the larger context of nationhood and banal nationalism in Barbados, but especially prevalent around Independence Day. (Billig 1995) I will argue that in this context, “embedded narratives are thematically relevant to a topic under discussion and that they take on discourse features of the surrounding discourse” (Ochs & Capps 2001:37) . The recording was made in November 2004, in Cyprian’s Boys School, a private school in Barbados’ Garrison area.


Billig, M. (1995). Banal Nationalism. London: Sage Publications.

Ochs, E. and L. Capps (2001). Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Session: Paper session
Narratives 1 (self)
Friday, April 4, 2008, 10:30-12:00
room: 13