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Malcolm X and his autobiography: identity development and self-narration

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This paper takes up Tappan’s (2005) project of analyzing the identity development of Malcolm X. Considering Malcolm X’s autobiography as an instance of mediated action, I show how he uses the mediational tool of ‘development as metamorphosis’ to narrate himself. Because of the similarity between this mediational tool and Tappan’s own theory, I question Tappan’s use of the autobiography to illustrate his theory. Utilizing data sources beyond the autobiography, the present analysis makes three theoretical points. First, the development of Malcolm X’s identity is not so much a series of ‘liberations’ as it is the accumulation of discourses from different social strata. Second, it is the complex and unresolved interrelations between these discourses that comprise the uniqueness of Malcolm X. Third, ideological becoming is often, as in Malcolm X’s case, constrained by social structure. In conclusion, I discuss methodological issues concerning the analysis of a public figure such as Malcolm X.

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en

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application/pdf

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/38642/1/Malcolm_X_and_his_autobiography_identity_development_and_self-narration_%28LSERO%29.pdf

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