Locating Identities: Narrative Structure and Positioning Analysis of Young Activists from Mindanao

Authors: Maria Arvie Gail T. Escasiñas (Mindanao State University, Iligan Institute of Technology, The Philippines)
Speakers: Maria Arvie Gail T. Escasiñas
Strand: General Sociolinguistics
Session Type: General Session


The study examines the structure of the oral becoming-activist narratives of five (5) young activists from 3 provinces in Mindanao: Agusan del Norte, Bukidnon, and Sultan Kudarat. It attempted to describe youth activists in Mindanao by determining where identities and self-presentations are located in narratives. Using Labov’s Narrative Model, the study determined the structure of the young activists’ becoming-activist narratives. It also uses Bamberg’s Positioning Analysis to explain the presentation of self and locate identity claims. The findings demonstrate that Labov’s narrative elements were present in the narratives, but they did not contribute to the construction of a coherent narrative structure. Multiple interjections of evaluative and orienting elements, as well as the subsumption of narrative parts into another element, resulted in convoluted and complex narrative structures that delay the sequence of events of the narrative. The data also shows that there are narrative elements used that do not fit into Labov’s narrative model (i.e., contextuals and flashbacks), and instead serve to establish the situation in which the narrative occurs, similar to how the orientation does. This study demonstrates that Labov’s narrative model is not universal, as personal experience narratives told by narrators who have a strong command of the language deviate from the framework’s limits.

Furthermore, the first level of Bamberg’s positioning analysis, revealed diverse presentations of a self in the narratives (i.e., activist, Lumad, community worker, organization member, son etc.,). The research also affirms that as narrators control the realm of the telling, they can construct themselves when narrating their personal experiences. However, the placement levels do not always have to function together, as evidenced by the lack of identity claims when participants position themselves in relation to their audience. The secondary positioning analysis captured constructions of an identity in the way the participants presented themselves in their narratives that explain the broader social, economic and political contexts in Mindanao, in which the marginalized and the oppressed are the most affected.

Keywords: Narrative structure, Positioning analysis, Young mindanao activists.