The Gendered Sense of Self: Performing Identities Within Biographical Narratives

  • Abstract:

    The purpose of this paper is to define how femininities and masculinities are performed in an oral Galician corpus of three groups, lasting one hour and a half and involving conversations between three heterosexual couples who are friends and neighbours from a small village, divided firstly in two separated groups according to their sexes and then assembled in a mixed group. In the wake of recent studies on gender and identity in language, I argue that identities are a discursive product that emerges in the intersection between social ideologies and biographical narratives. Telling one´s own life experience constitutes a restrictive identification mechanism because during narratives people not only organize a particular life experience but also show self-perception. The narrator is transformed into an agent who controls and constructs discourses determining the self-representation in the story. Narratives are therefore a decisive way to access to gender construction mechanisms. In particular, I will study the discursive construction of youth to explore the social changes and different representations of sexuality from a rural point of view. This perspective allows us to investigate the complex processes of the symbolic reconfiguration of space and time as an identity construction mechanism. As a result, I will show how gender categories are shifting and how they interact with other social aspects, such as in this case, class, age and ethnicity.