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Vulnerability and the Politics of CareTransdisciplinary Dialogues$
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Victoria Browne, Jason Danely, and Doerthe Rosenow

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266830

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266830.001.0001

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‘It Rips You to Bits!’: Woundedness and Compassion in Carers’ Narratives

‘It Rips You to Bits!’: Woundedness and Compassion in Carers’ Narratives

(p.168) 8 ‘It Rips You to Bits!’: Woundedness and Compassion in Carers’ Narratives
Vulnerability and the Politics of Care

Jason Danely

British Academy

To be vulnerable is not only to be open and exposed to the world, but in some sense to be wounded by it. As Arthur Frank (1995) observed, these wounds won through adversity call out for stories. For those who provide care to others, these stories are rarely singular or coherent, but throb and ache again as each day bringsa new flavour and flux. While vulnerable narratives expose the self to the world, they also provide a basis for responding to that world with attentive presence. I use the word ‘compassion’ to refer to this receptive engagement and caring responsiveness to suffering, arguing that cultural stories shape the ways vulnerable compassionate subjectivities are formed. In order to illustrate this cultural shaping of woundedness and compassion, I examine the narratives of carers of older family members in Japan and England. Ethnographic examples reveal the ways individuals develop vulnerable narratives and the ways these narratives are constrained by cultural and political circumstances.

Keywords:   care, elderly, Japan, England, Narrative, Compassion, Ethnography, Woundedness, Stories, vulnerability

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