The notion of ‘the trace’ is crucial in how I read, understand and weave narratives into my research practice and analytical framework and of course the idea of the trace goes well beyond the narrative field. My take of ‘the trace’ comes from the historian, Marc Bloch and conveys the idea that narratives can momentarily throw light on otherwise complex and obscure ways that we relate to ourselves, to the world and to others. Problematic and full of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ as they are, narratives are all we have. Since narratives are the only tangible traces of human existence and of the web of human relations, if we are to use them in our work we need to do it seriously and in good faith. According to Bloch not all traces ‘lend themselves equally well to the evocation of the past’ (The Historian’s Craft, 57). This is where narrative research becomes important: while being aware of the epistemological possibilities, but also the limitations of traces, we still need to know and practice how to discern, assemble, read, understand and rewrite narratives ultimately weaving them into the fabric of the researchers’ narrative.



Please reference as: Maria Tamboukou (2018) ‘Traces’