Reconceptualising the role of narrative in education and development in Africa: Lessons from the field

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


There has been a major ‘turn’ towards narrative, biographical and life history approaches in the academy over the last 30 years. But whereas some significant narrative research has been carried out in the West, such approaches are in their infancy on the African continent. This article explores narrative at three levels from the influence of Western meta narratives to the national and more personal narratives of teachers and students. Drawing on two periods of narrative field work in Ghana and South Africa, the article concludes with a discussion of three important lessons to be learnt from the field: that the relationship between ‘grand’ hegemonic narratives and individual life histories needs to be re-thought; that context and culture provide the hermeneutic ‘glue’ that provides meaning to the field narratives; and that narrative research can provide alternative sources of evidence for policymakers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-31
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development in Africa
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014


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