Narrative Power Analysis of The American Story

 

Written by Alex Parker. ESLLC 2015-2016

Narrative power analysis shows how stories shape and control our society’s culture. Smart meme defines culture as “…A matrix of shared mental maps that define how we collectively create meaning and understand the world around us.” I found this definition enlightening, our culture is extremely complex and difficult to understand and comprehend, but we as humans all think as one large mind.

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The idea of the dominant culture in which powerful institutions such as the Catholic Church in the middle ages or big corporations now control and define how society thinks and acts. Culture is created through stories that are told by the dominant culture to influence the way people think until the story is widely known as true. In the article the authors discuss the truth behind Thanksgiving and how instead of a shared feast it was in fact the celebration of a massacre of 700 Pequot women and children by white settlers. Why is Thanksgiving celebrated by the large portion of American people till this day? The narrative power analysis looks to examine stories such as Thanksgiving that define and control our culture and challenge those stories and the falsehood that surrounds them.

This idea of control stories ties into Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk on the danger of the single story, the defining of an entire race as one single object. Adichie says “I realized that I had been so immersed in the media coverage of Mexicans that they had become one thing in my mind, the abject immigrant.” I found this quote hit close to home, in Alaska many people are obscenely racist towards the native Alaskans because they only know the single story of the drunken native raping a white girl in downtown Fairbanks. I myself have met many native Alaskans and lived amongst them in the bush, they are not all drunken savages as many people believe. Adichie’s warning about the danger of the single story is evident all across the world. Many single stories are created by dominant cultures that frame one race as beastly and half-devil half-child. Re-framing is important to the future of social change because if humanity is to move forward we must put aside our differences and realize that everyone really is created equal.

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