Narratives of trauma and on-going recovery:the 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic

Mort, Maggie and Bailey, Catherine and Convery, Ian and Baxter, Josephine (2004) Narratives of trauma and on-going recovery:the 2001 foot and mouth disease epidemic. Auto/Biography, 11. pp. 37-46. ISSN 0967-5507

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This paper illustrates the rich possibilities of narrative analysis. It explores the inter-play between what is being told and how it is being told, so that analytical themes remain mindful of meaning in practice (Gubrium & Holstein 1998). We draw on an on-going 2 year research study1 into the health and social consequences of the 2001 UK Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic (FMD).2 A citizen panel of 54 people from the worst affected area, who lived through the crisis in different ways have provided the data: weekly diaries over an 18 month period. These contributions allow us to excavate representation, meaning and salience within past, present and ongoing experiences of the epidemic. The panel also participated in 12 focus group discussions, once before diary keeping began and once to bring closure to the project. Each member also gave us an in-depth interview near the start of the study - in this way both individual, group and longitudinal reflective accounts are included in our data. We draw on participants' narratives to illustrate how their rich, diverse and sometimes contradictory, personal experiences of the crisis, are nevertheless coherent accounts (Hermans 2000) when brought together. Such narratives reveal indexical recollections of FMD (references to concrete events in time and place), so that the stories themselves may be framed by local and cultural understandings of these events. In this way plot, content and context of storytelling may embody both personally meaningful accounts of trauma and recovery and the localised, cultural context of experience.

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08 Feb 2022 16:50
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22 Nov 2022 11:05