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Incoherence matters: Life-stories after fundamental regime-change

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Anselma Gallinat



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2015.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Life-stories are usually seen as showing considerable coherence even where they include turning points. More recent work has in contrast noted that “living” or “small narratives” do not follow this rule but contrastingly enable the pondering of unresolved life-events helping to develop understanding. This potential is particularly valuable in contexts of fundamental regime-change where changes of the value-system, such as after transition from state socialism to democracy, pose considerable challenges to narrative coherence. The article suggests reconsidering the question of coherence in life-stories and draws on two examples of individuals who experienced life in East Germany and German unification to argue that struggles for coherence in the life-story can be indicative of the lack of wider shared frameworks for the understandings of national events and historical problems.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Gallinat A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Narrative Inquiry

Year: 2015

Volume: 25

Issue: 2

Pages: 283-300

Print publication date: 01/06/2016

Acceptance date: 26/02/2016

Date deposited: 18/05/2016

ISSN (print): 1387-6740

ISSN (electronic): 1569-9935

Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Company


DOI: 10.1075/ni.25.2.05gal


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