Helena Taubner – Identity and narrative agency when living with aphasia in a digitalised society
Helena is a postdoctoral researcher at Halmstad University, Sweden. With a background in computational linguistics and disability research, she has specialized in aphasia, identity and narrative agency.
Helena will give her talk in English.
Aphasia is an acquired language disability, caused by stroke or brain injury. Since aphasia involves difficulties producing and/or understanding language, written as well as spoken, it entails a reduced ability and opportunity to author one’s own narrative. In the face of this reduced narrative agency, people who acquire aphasia need to renegotiate their identity. To do so they mirror their stories of self in social structures, including the contemporary communication landscape in which digital tools play an important part, but also norms and attitudes – strongly influenced by the media – towards people with language disabilities.
In her PhD thesis, published in 2019, Helena included 21 individuals with post-stroke aphasia. They experienced a higher degree of narrative agency when communicating online in social media than in other practices. The key to this enhanced narrative agency was the multimodality offered by the digital tools.