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Prepositions as locators across war space and time

3.1 Farther reaches of theoretical and methodological explorations
Paper in a Symposium (Symp)
3:06 PM, Tuesday 29 Aug 2017 (24 minutes)
Afternoon Refreshments   03:30 PM to 03:50 PM (20 minutes)
Space and time are basic categories of human existence. Yet, empirical research in contemporary developmental psychology often takes these categories for granted, giving them common sense or self-evident attributions. Rarely is their meaning for, and relevance to the process of socio-cognitive development addressed. 
Employing the dynamic narrating approach, the present study explores how 16 individuals who as young people grew up during the four-year long siege of Sarajevo make sense of their experience twenty years following the conclusion of the Bosnian war. Participants wrote to three narrative prompts that direct their sense-making process to three distinct phases of their development: 1) the prewar, 2) the acute war, and 3) the postwar phase.
Data analyses aim to show that space, time, and physical environment get enacted in language through the varied use of prepositions in narrative response across the three phases. Prepositions are sets of words that indicate place (near, beside, above), location (at, in, on), time (since, during, after), direction (to, onto, into) and spatial relations (across, along, toward). While their role in narrative is to introduce necessary spatial-relational information, hence orienting the reader through the narrated space, the use of prepositions also has the potential to reveal important information about the process of cognitive development as they point to narrator’s understanding of place, direction, location and time in narrative action. Results reveal that participants employ prepositions significantly more frequently to make sense of the acute war phase than either the prewar or the postwar phase.
Pratt Institute

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