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Language, Culture and Identity in Narratives of Migration (completed)

This project investigates the ways in which identities are expressed, constructed, and negotiated in multilingual and culturally diverse settings through narratives of migrants.

Piston in passport. Photo.

About the project

Linguistic choices, at all levels of organization, including the use of metaphors, are a resource for the narrator in the construction of identities in conversational discourse. Narratives of personal experience provide insight into how speakers utilize their linguistic resources to categorize themselves and others as they negotiate both personal and professional identities in discourse. Narratives of personal experience also provide insight into how speakers utilize their linguistic resources to negotiate agency and power in their presentation and positioning of the self in social experiences. These aspects of identity constructions are particularly salient in narratives of those with a migrant background in which the narrator pivots between now and then, here and there, negotiating a sense of belonging through explicit and implicit categorizations of her own actions and behaviors, and that of others. Data come from focus group conversations involving medical professionals with a migrant background, as well as interviews with third generation heritage language speakers of Norwegian in the US.


  • Language, culture and identity in migrant doctors’ narratives in Norway
  • Identity construction in narratives of elderly Norwegian heritage language speakers in the US


2015. Anne GoldenElizabeth Lanza. "Coon Valley Norwegians Meet Norwegians from Norway: Language, Culture and Identity among Heritage Language Speakers in the U. S." In Germanic Heritage Languages in North America: Acquisition, Attrition and Change. Janne Bondi Johannessen & Joseph Salmons (eds.). John Benjamins.

2013. Anne Golden & Elizabeth Lanza. "Metaphors of culture: Identity construction in migrants' narrative discourse." Intercultural Pragmatics 2: 295–314.

2012. Anne Golden & Elizabeth Lanza. "Narratives on literacy: Adult migrants' identity construction in interaction." In Literacy Practices in Transition: Perspectives from the Nordic Countries. Lars Holm & Anne Pitkänen-Huhta (eds.). Multilingual Matters.

2012. Elizabeth Lanza. "Empowering a migrant identity: Agency in narratives of a work experience in Norway." Sociolinguistic Studies. Vol. 6(2): 285–307.


Previously funded by the Research Council of Norway under the Language, Culture and Identity in Migrant Narratives project (2008–2012), referred to as the SKI project: Språk, Kultur, Identitet.

The website for the SKI project.

Published Dec. 8, 2013 10:44 PM - Last modified Jan. 31, 2021 1:52 AM