X is a Swarthmore undergraduate studying comparative literature, French and Black Studies. He is interested in cultural politics in popular culture, media and literature.
Junior Contributor I
Narratives & Authorial Positionality
I have had this question in my head for years, but I’ve never had a space to ask it. When writing a narrative, how important is it to recognize one’s own positionality? When I say this term, I mean one’s social makeup and characteristics — As a white, cishet, middle-class man, does it really makes sense for you to try and write about the struggles of a Latinx transwoman from impoverished rural Oaxaca? Research aside, can you really embody someone whose experience is established by their otherness?
This is a heady question, and the above paragraph may not be clear. Essentially, how can you know the experience of someone who has known the world differently because of their positionality as a marginalized or oppressed person? Is it really possible to understand someone’s lived experience based on research or testimonials? And if it is possible, should we do it?