Simultaneously Navigating 'Now' and 'Then' in Immigrants' Personal-Experience Narratives

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


Focusing on the personal-experience narratives of immigrants who have moved to Scotland, this paper will - through playback and analysis of audio-recorded narrative extracts - examine how and why these narratives navigate time and temporalities. Through personal-experience narratives, immigrants relate their current interpretations and simultaneous imaginings of past, present, and future, recounting these together to better understand their lives through what has come before, what is now, and what may be. Narrated through this prism of 'now' and 'then' are their aspirations, fears, joy, regrets, and epiphanies. 'Now' and 'then' exist across multiple temporalities and geographies (e.g. calm childhood in 'home' country, current fast-paced working life in 'adopted' country, slow-paced retirement), while existing simultaneously in the current temporal imagination. W. F. H. Nicolaisen (1985) writes that considering and rehearsing the future is key to our lives, as we confront and attempt to cope with potential obstacles and opportunities in the future. This notion applies just as well to the present and past. By tracking changes in, and considering, recounting, and rehearsing these different time periods in our lives that each flow at their own paces, we not only prepare ourselves for obstacles and opportunities to come, but also (re)negotiate those obstacles and opportunities that come to us in our current lives or through our memories. With this in mind, this paper aims to simultaneously better understand our everyday interactions with and reactions to time, while also gaining an understanding of what it means to be an immigrant today.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 15 Apr 2019
EventSocieté Internationale d'Ethnologie et de Folklore (SIEF) 14th Congress - Santiago di Compostela, SPAIN
Duration: 14 Apr 201918 Apr 2019


ConferenceSocieté Internationale d'Ethnologie et de Folklore (SIEF) 14th Congress
CitySantiago di Compostela


  • Immigration
  • time
  • temporality
  • Folklore
  • Folklore studies
  • Narrative


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