Working the Past: Narrative and Institutional Memory

Paperback | December 3, 2008

byCharlotte Linde

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Stories told within institutions play a powerful role, helping to define not only the institution itself, but also its individual members. How do institutions use stories? How do those stories both preserve the past and shape the future? To what extent does narrative construct bothcollective and individual identity? Charlotte Linde's unique and far-reaching study addresses these questions by looking at the interplay of narratives, memory, and identity in a large insurance company. Her detailed ethnography looks at the role of stories within the institution and how they are employed by its members in bothprivate and group settings. Analyzing the re-telling of certain key stories, she shows how the formation of "core" stories and their multiple re-tellings and modifications provide a means of formulating and promoting a cohesive group identity -- which in turn shapes the stories and identities ofthe individuals within the collective. Linde also looks at silences, and how stories not told also convey their version of the past. Working the Past shows how stories that might otherwise be seen as part of mundane daily life are in fact utterly essential to the formation and maintenance of individual and group identity. Her original research will appeal to those interested in narrative studies, linguistics, anthropology,sociology, and institutional memory.

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Stories told within institutions play a powerful role, helping to define not only the institution itself, but also its individual members. How do institutions use stories? How do those stories both preserve the past and shape the future? To what extent does narrative construct bothcollective and individual identity? Charlotte Linde'...

Charlotte Linde is Research Scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center, and has also taught at Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, and the City University of New York. She is the author of Life Stories: The Creation of Coherence.

other books by Charlotte Linde

Format:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.68 inPublished:December 3, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019514029X

ISBN - 13:9780195140293

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: How Institutions Remember2. Data for the Study: The MidWest Insurance Company3. Occasions for Institutional Remembering4. Retold Tales: Repeated Narratives as a Resource for Institutional Remembering5. Multiple Versions of MidWest's History6. Three Versions of One Story: A Comparison7. Paradigmatic Narratives: Exemplary Narratives of Everyman8. Narrative and Intertextuality: Telling One's Own Story Within a Textual Community9. Noisy Silences: Stories Not Told10. Working the Past: Identity and MemoryAcknowledgementsReferences