The incorporation of World War II experiences in the life stories of alumni from the Vrije University in Amsterdam: an exploration at the crossroads between narrative, identity, and culture
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For this study, twelve life stories of alumni from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, who were enrolled during the Nazi Occupation between 1940 and 1945, were collected and analyzed. Besides exploring the extent to which the interviews were co-constructed jointly by the interviewer and interviewees, this study addresses three questions. First, it acknowledges methodological concerns associated with an overabundance of narrative data, and suggests a new method for arriving at a core narrative based on the distribution of time. This core narrative can then be analyzed further. Second, it is suggested that early memories serve as identity claims; because of their congruency with the remainder of the story, they appear to foreshadow what is to come. As a result, it is argued that childhood memories merit special attention in the analysis of narratives. Third, and finally, the constraints on narratives imposed by cultural conventions, or master narratives, are explored. Narrators use a variety of strategies in order to satisfy sometimes competing demands on their narratives. It is argued that culture makes its influence felt in ways that are not always obvious, particularly if the interviewee and interviewer share the same culture.
world war II
Visser, Roemer Maarten Sander (2007). The incorporation of World War II experiences in the life stories of alumni from the Vrije University in Amsterdam: an exploration at the crossroads between narrative, identity, and culture. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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