Narrating illness messianically? Counteracting the biocapitalistic logic of Frank’s “restitution narrative” through Benjamin and Derrida

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2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the last decades, narrative theory has collaborated with sociology and anthropology of health to account for the importance that illness narratives hold for those who are or have been sick, for those who live with them, for the organizations where they work–if they do, and for public administration. The reason for the link between the two disciplines is that the way in which one explains one’s illness to him or herself, as well as to others, has a crucial impact on one’s experience of being ill as well as on others’ reactions. This paper focuses on the work of one the most influential sociologists who has combined both disciplines: Frank’s The Wounded Storyteller. To our mind, Frank’s lucid account misses the importance of the biocapitalistic forces in his otherwise compelling reflection on illness narratives and proposal of three narrative types. In this paper, we suggest how the logic of the messianic narratives of Benjamin and Derrida can help identify the biocapitalistic forces that inform one of the illness narratives Frank studies and criticizes–the restitution narrative- and can help complement the narrative type Frank most praises–the quest narrative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-272
Number of pages21
JournalJournal for Cultural Research
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2019

Keywords

  • Derrida
  • Frank
  • Illness narrative
  • biocapitalism
  • messianism
  • state of exception

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