Narratively (bang) out of order

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In this paper I turn to imaginal dialogue as a creative-relational response to the troubling discord amongst the voices within me that disagree with one another on the subject of being an immigrant in Britain. The radical idiosyncrasies each voice represents throw into question the existential singularity of the narrator and the linearity of narrative. So, I am reminded of Butler’s (2016) words, “the desire to belong implies an unacceptable loss, and the desire not to belong engenders an unbearable estrangement” (p. ix). This speaks not to the paradox of choices and consequences, but to the psychical juxtaposition of the voices, evoked momentarily (of desire, loss, belonging, un-belonging, estrangement…) co-existing, collapsing and impinging upon one another. They chime in and out so abruptly and out of sync in the moments of dealing with the Home Office, of encountering racist implications saturating discursive strategies, policy statements, political debates and press reports that produce immigration as an issue of social epidemic. Every encounter is a bang – a disruptive, inner shock.

In this paper I am responding to my failed ventures to orchestrate a congruous symphony amongst the discordant voices in the wake of the bangs, coming to recognise that more “powerful” ones often shout the loudest; as a result they get heard a bit more and by getting heard more, articulate more confidently. Imaginal dialogue, here, activates an alternative mode of listening to my selves in relation to one another. It becomes a form of activism that starts from the internal, by my beginning to make space for the under-represented voices in me that have gone unheard and to invite them into a dialogue as a relational process of getting to know them. I will then venture to bring forth their idiosyncratic meanings despite how “unacceptable” and “unbearable” (ibid) they can be. The voices cannot speak for themselves without encouragement and an element of solidarity, as I acknowledge, so that there is no guarantee they are up for a dialogue. Still, I will try to lean forward and take anything they are willing to share with me – to get to the otherwise concealed (Heidegger, 1971).

Bulter, J. (2016) ‘Foreword: Tracking the Mechanism of the Psychosocial’. In S. Frosh (ed.) Psychosocial Imaginaries: Perspectives on Temporality, Subjectivities and Activism. London: Palgrave.
Heidegger, M. (1971) ‘The Origin of the Work of Art and the Thing’. in M. Heidegger (ed.) Poetry, Language, Thought (trans. A. Hofstadter). New York: Harper and Row
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019
EventEuropean Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 2019 - University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 13 Feb 201915 Feb 2019


ConferenceEuropean Congress of Qualitative Inquiry 2019
Abbreviated titleECQI2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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