Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

Interdisciplinary narrative research conceives of narrative as a “travelling concept” (see Bal 2002) – that is, “a semiotic phenomenon that transcends disciplines and media” (Ryan 2008 [2005], 344; see also the contributions in Ryan 2004). According to Marie-Laure Ryan (2008 [2005], 345), inquiry into the nature of narrative can take two forms: descriptive and definitional. While the former describes what narrative can do for human beings (e.g., serving as a tool for thinking, sense-making, or constructing and understanding models of reality), the latter seeks to identify the distinctive features that are constitutive of a text’s or medium’s narrative quality, its narrativity (see Abbott 2014).

David Herman (2009) foregrounds the multidimensionality of the concept, acknowledging that narrative can be conceived differently in one or the other discipline, for example “as a cognitive structure or way of making sense of experience, as a type of text [or discourse mode], [or] as a resource for communicative interaction” (x). According to Herman, narrativity can be broken down into four “basic elements” or criteria that a text or medium needs to fulfill in order to be considered a narrative, a story. These are (i) situatedness, (ii) event sequencing, (iii) worldmaking or world disruption, and (iv) qualia or the sense of “what it’s like” (Herman 2009, 9). As an interdisciplinary project, OPPORTUNITIES seeks to broaden understanding of the forms, functions, and effects of narratives in migration discourses.

⇢ see also Fictions of migration, Migrant narrative, Narrative, Narrative analysisNarrative common goodNarrative dilemmaNarrative dynamicsNarrative ecologyNarrative equityNarrative goodsNarrative identityNarrative integrity, Narrative marketNarrative techniqueNarratives on migrationRepresentation of migration

References and further reading:

Abbott, H. Porter. 2014. “Narrativity.” In The Living Handbook of Narratology, edited by Peter Hühn, Jan Christoph Meister, John Pier, and Wolf Schmid. URL:

Bal, Mieke. 2002. Travelling Concepts in the Humanities: A Rough Guide. Toronto, ON et al.: University of Toronto Press.

Herman, David. 2009. Basic Elements of Narrative. Malden, MA et al.: Wiley-Blackwell.

Ryan, Marie-Laure. 2004. Narrative across Media: The Languages of Storytelling. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.

Ryan, Marie-Laure. 2008 [2005]. “Narrative.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative, edited by David Herman, Manfred Jahn, and Marie-Laure Ryan, 344–348. London and New York, NY: Routledge.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8