This essay explores the intimate and immensely productive relation of belonging and narrative. It is concerned with belonging as an existential condition of human being, and with narrative as the quintessential mediator and enabler of that condition. As fundamental constituent of human being, so its main claim, narrative serves as a cultural resource of orientation and emplacement that sustains our being by giving voice and form. Thus understood, narrative becomes an indispensable and proactive component of dwelling in the world—a proposition that seeks to broaden interrogations of narrative “use” beyond matters of human temporality to include the intricate ways in which this human activity is distinctly invested in matters of space. In fact, if current work on space departs from the assumption that it has been released from its role as a stable backdrop for the dynamic operations of time, that it has itself become productive in the wake of the “spatial turn,” how does this new productivity of space intersect with that of narrative—especially when understood not primarily as the impersonal work of reality-forming structures, but as conflicted form of human agency mobilized through an existential uncertainty? Drawing from Heidegger’s concept of dwelling as a hermeneutical practice and from the notion of ontological narrativity recently posited in the social sciences, what can we say about narrative’s place making and building capacities? And what is the role that narrative art plays in this?


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pp. 17-39
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