Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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This article examines storytelling (narratives) in interaction at a Japanese American museum. The analysis draws upon audiovisual recordings of tours led by older, male Japanese American docents. It examines ways docents tell stories — primarily of vicarious experience — in educating visitors on Japanese-American history, and ways they use a range of verbal and non-verbal communicative practices that invite visitors’ engagement in the telling as a social and sense-making activity. We categorize two types of communicative practices: elicited and non-elicited. Elicited practices include (1) interrogative and polar questions, which are further divided into (a) known and (b) unknown information questions, and (2) other-repetition + list intonation. Non-elicited practices include affective talk and gestures in recounting past events. We show ways that visitor engagement varies in relation to elicited and non-elicited practices. Finally, we discuss storytelling as a vehicle for displaying and positioning the self and others in relation to stance and identity, and in working towards the goals of the museum.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): identity; institutional interaction; Japanese American; museum; storytelling
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