Cohen, Leor. “Iterative Emplotment Scenarios: Being ‘The Only Ethiopian’.” Discourse Studies 18.2 (2016): 123-43.
The realism-social constructionism debate has been consequential over the last several decades. Silverstein’s vocabulary of micro-/macro-contexts aids in understanding why the tension can be a useful epistemological heuristic for discourse analysts. Narratives were collected in focus groups of Ethiopian-Israeli college students. Five narratives were selected for ethnic mentions and found to have a particular ‘iterative’ ‘emplotment scenario’ (IES) – recurrent storylines and settings – across tellers and telling events. ‘the only Ethiopian’ is an IES of being sent away to a majority-White elementary/secondary school, socially isolated and denigrated. How are we to understand it when a particular plotline and setting recur in our corpora? I argue that although each story and storytelling is unique, they all borrow from a larger-than-single-telling, already existent trope, that is, a budding master narrative. Taken together, a unique view of a particular socio-cultural process – in this case, something of what it means to be an Ethiopian Israeli – emerges.