Issue 45 of the Bank Street Occasional Paper Series is a labor of love. It testifies to our love for Jonathan Silin, who for 17 years served as Editor-in-Chief. The issue is also a testament to our respect for the things that matter to him. We have designed Issue 45 to exemplify two commitments that have shaped the decades of Jonathan’s career and that we believe will resonate with readers of the Occasional Paper Series.
One of these commitments is Jonathan’s passionate belief in the power of narrative—of well-crafted story-telling—to act as a dialogic, interpretive, and transformative form of writing that makes clear that the language we use to represent knowledge can also create new ways to imagine the social world. While there is always more than one way to tell a story, we understand from Jonathan’s rich writings that the how of telling a story matters.
So often, our imaginations are constrained by dominant narratives repeatedly told that govern the very recognizability of being: who we imagine to be a child, a citizen, or a person whose life matters. Interweaving the personal and political, Jonathan’s work features narratives that challenge the normative conceptualizations of childhood and development that too often deny children’s complex subjectivities, that individualize socially produced traumas, and that pathologize diverse loves, peoples, and pleasures. In precisely those times when words congeal around fixed meanings and disavow difference, Jonathan’s work reminds us that narrative is the resource we need to reconnect stalled meanings with the fluidity of experiences, voices, and relationships that have the potential to animate and exceed what we thought we knew.