Narrative Mediation of Conventional and New “Mental Health” Paradigms: Reading the Stories of Immigrant Iranian Women

Abstract

The potential of storytelling to effect change and produce new knowledge is being recognized across disciplines. Two conditions are necessary to realize these goals: first, reading of stories must be contextualized to include larger social and political landscapes; and second, how stories are read and toward what end must be closely examined. This article explores these issues with reference to the subject of the “mental health” or emotional well-being of a cohort of postrevolution Iranian women from metropolitan Vancouver, British Columbia. Reading their stories at a particular moment in time shows that well-being is essentially grounded in spaces and places where we live, work, and engage in social interactions. This commonplace knowledge, which is subdued in medical discourse, retrieved through Iranian women’s stories of life and living told at a time when their experiences, histories, and viewpoints on health are subject to erasure.