“My heart was so painful ”: A Narrative Inquiry into the Impact of Immigration Status, Violence, Disability and Poverty on Identity Construction
Joanne Neille* and Claire Penn
School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Corresponding Author:
- Joanne Neille
School of Human and Community Development
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tel: +2711 717 4574
Fax: +2786 553 6060
E-mail: [email protected]
Received date: February 28, 2014; Accepted date: July 04, 2014; Published date: July 11, 2014
Citation: Neille J, Penn C (2014) “My heart was so painful”: A Narrative Inquiry into the Impact of Immigration Status, Violence, Disability and Poverty on Identity Construction. Arts Social Sci J S1:007. doi:10.4172/2151-6200.S1-007
Copyright: © 2014 Neille J, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Violence among immigrant women is a growing concern internationally. A number of studies have used surveys, structured questionnaires and secondary analysis in order to investigate various aspects of vulnerability that place immigrant women at risk for being exposed to violence. However, little attention has been paid to the ways in which contextual influences intersect and overlap, deepening the immigrants’ sense of vulnerability. In this paper we present a single case study, conducted in rural South Africa, of a female immigrant with a disability, living in a context dominated by violence and poverty. A narrative inquiry method was employed in order to provide insight into the impact that context, immigration status and disability have on identity construction. Findings were analysed using both thematic and narrative analysis, according to the positioning of the narrator, characters and events within the story; the temporal and spatial domains within which events were constructed; and the development of a narrative plot. Findings revealed that the context of violence and poverty was central the way in which life experiences were interpreted. The complex combination of horror and trauma which the participant experienced served to threaten her sense of self, resulting in a narrative devoid of sequence and consequence, and ultimately an incoherent sense of self. Narrative inquiry was shown to be a potentially valuable tool for exploring intersecting aspects of lived experience and for providing insight into the ways in which these experiences impact on identity construction. Importantly, the findings highlight the value of listening to unconventional narratives in order to understand the reality of lived experience among immigrant women.