Refugee life stories have developed as a popular medium for attempting to portray southern Sudanese wartime experience. These narratives of war and exile have been told, edited and published in what has become an explanatory industry in refugee work worldwide. The development of this economy of life stories from the early 1980s, however, has encouraged the propagation of standardized displaced “life stories” as a discrete narrative genre. This article traces the formulation of this distinctive style of historical explanation and argues that this genre, while claiming emancipatory agency and “voice” for marginalized people, has instead become a narrative trap.
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