Narratives of identity within place

Intersectional women’s identities within everyday places of encounter

Imogen Carr, University of Melbourne

This doctoral research uses narrative to explore how expressions and experiences of women’s identities relate to everyday places and encounters. The study considers identity via three spatiotemporal scales. First, through life-story narratives – these are the narratives people tell about their own personal, familial, social and cultural histories. Second, through everyday encounters – the way in which people negotiate their own identities in relation to others, particularly via perception and representation. Third, through everyday places – these include lived experiences of patterns of use; norms and codes of behaviour existing within place, as well as the broader narratives of particular places. At each of these spatiotemporal scales, personal and collective narratives intersect. It is at these intersections that negotiations of identity occur.

How a person positions themselves and/or is positioned is fundamental to the experience and expression of intersectional identities. A focus on the everyday provides insight regarding the way identity is negotiated via daily routines and practices. This place-based research uses the North Richmond-Abbottsford neighbourhood as case study. A culturally, socially and economically diverse inner-urban neighbourhood, it is home to the Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR) which has been the focus of significant media coverage. The narratives of stigma, safety and who belongs which surround this centre and the practice of public drug use in the area intersect with the everyday lives and personal narratives of residents in various and sometimes unexpected ways.

This research seeks to add layers of complexity to existing understandings of the relationship between identity and place via narrative. Emerging findings highlight the intersectionality of identities as complex and fluid; and foreground encounter, with diverse others and with narratives, as discursive spaces in which possible identities emerge.


Imogen Carr is a Doctoral Candidate in the School of Geography. Her research bridges spatial and social research methodologies, using life-story and media narratives as a means to explore difference, encounter, and power within everyday places. Complementing her research, Imogen has also worked as a research assistant on a community-led narrative research project, Narrating Neighbourhood, which partnered with local government and service provision to used narrative as a tool to examine challenges to ‘rights to the city’ in the dense and diverse neighbourhood of Richmond. Imogen can be contacted on 

Images from on-site fieldwork, © Imogen Carr.
Feature image: Jan Antonin Kolar on Unsplash.