Identity Construction in Three AbaGusii Bewitchment Narratives

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Kisii University, Kenya

2 Texas State University, USA

Abstract

The stories we tell about our lives unveil their content just as much as the lexical choices we make index a certain worldview, attitude, positionality, and relationship to reality. In essence, in narratives, individuals construct the self and denote personal identities. The available narrative identity studies have largely ignored the language employed by the bewitched while narrating their experiences. Based on the personal narratives obtained from three self-professed previously bewitched individuals from the AbaGusii community of Kenya (Aba = people, hence AbaGusii = Gusii people), this article examines the verbal clauses employed by these narrators as they recounted their experiences. The goal is to understand how these individuals constructed their personal identities through the three different phases (i.e., pre-bewitchment phase, the bewitchment phase, and the post bewitchment phase) of their bewitchment experiences. The paper argues that understanding the various identity constructions by the bewitched is invaluable for understanding not only how they represented and structured events in their lives, but also how the identities represented them as particular agents in their world, and how they viewed themselves as particular community members.

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