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Attesting the self: Narration and identity change during periods of residence abroad.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2001
<mark>Journal</mark>Language and Intercultural Communication
Issue number2
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)101-119
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper, arising out of the work of The Interculture Project, considers the relationship between student diary writing and the formation of personal identity as it occurs in cross-cultural situations. With particular reference to Grossberg (1996), we critically review the 'figures' associated with the concept of identity and argue that identity cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by separating 'intrinsic' from 'extrinsic' attributes. Instead, we follow an approach which accepts Kristéva's Freudian analysis of the outsider phenomenon and sees identity as a continuous process of discursive construction involving voluntary acts of self-differentiation through language. In this, we follow Ricoeur's (1990) distinction between ipse and idem and the associated notion of attestation according to which language verifies and 'bears witness' to who we are. We illustrate the validity of Ricoeur's approach by identifying a set of discursive features which occur in an extended student diary in which the author distances himself from his own statements and comments on his own responses to living in another cultural environment. Our analysis posits the existence of an 'intercultural self' whose identity is contained within the dynamic of one's own language and we draw conclusions from this analysis for the preparation of students for residence abroad.

Bibliographic note

Translated as: Crawshaw, R., Callen, B. et Tusting, K. (2006) "Attestation du soi: narration et développement personnel pendant les périodes de séjour à l'étranger", trans. Aliette Chaput, Transculturalité: Au coeur de l'activité traduisante et de l'apprentissage des langues, Idioma no. 18, décembre 2006, pp. 81-100.