Autobiography as Counter-Narrative: An Empirical Study of How Race Enters and Structures the Stories of Our Lives
Dissertation - Public Access
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Adult and Continuing Education
Dr. Elizabeth A. Peterson
Dr. Scipio A. J. Colin, III
Dr. Stephen Brookfield and Dr. Mechthild Hart
The primary purpose of this study was to learn about how race enters and then structures the narratives of our life experiences. Critical Race Theory (CRT) was used as a lens through which to examine learning autobiographies and the CRT methodology of counter-storytelling was used to illustrate the ways in which race enters and structures the stories of our lives.
The data consist of personal narratives written by adult students who were not asked to consider their life experiences from a racialized perspective. That resulted in a level of authenticity of their voices. Analyzing the learning autobiographies through a CRT lens and then employing the CRT method of counter-storytelling made issues of race, racism and white supremacy immediately evident in the juxtaposition of a story and a counter-story.
The findings are presented as stories and counter-stories using a compilation of the data. They suggest subtle yet very significant ways in which our experiences are racialized, the results of which often lead to very different subsequent experiences. Using Bell’s idea of applying allegory to present what I had learned, I created two chronicles, one of an African American woman and the other a White woman. The point/counter-point illuminated a look at seemingly normal, seemingly non-racialized, everyday experiences that played out in extraordinarily different ways, with race being the only significant difference between the two narratives.
Yanow, Wendy B., "Autobiography as Counter-Narrative: An Empirical Study of How Race Enters and Structures the Stories of Our Lives" (2007). Dissertations. 18.