Research Committee on
Biography and Society, RC38
- Roswitha BRECKNER, University of Vienna, Austria, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Michaela KOETTIG, University of Applied Sciences, Germany, email@example.com
RC38 Liaison in Argentina
Betina Freidin, CONICET, University of Buenos Aires, firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer at the venue
Andrea Sosa Vanotti, email@example.com
All Forum participants (presenters, chairs, discussants, etc.) need to pay the early registration fee by April 10, 2012, in order to be included in the programme. If not registered, their names will not appear in the Programme or Abstracts Book.
Sessionsprovisional as of March 15, 2012, in alphabetical order
Biography and EthnographyConnecting biography and ethnography is essential to get fortunate outcomes. The notion of encounter may offer a useful conceptual angle for analysis. Socio-anthropologists are engaged in fieldwork encounters hoping to find themselves in ongoing relationships that intensify and multiply over time. The logic of action, the subjectivity of the informants but also the dynamics of their life and contexts result from a process that entails constant revision of what one has learned. Distance and proximity should be studied by looking to the steps of the encounter. Being native or not has to be asked in a new way. What can be the advantages and risks to link biography and ethnography? By looking to different fieldworks we will be able to answer this question.
Biography and experiences with violenceThe session invites contributions from different theoretical and methodological perspectives approaching biographies and experiences with violence, the latter being conceived here as a kind of transgression of legal norms and/or as a particular social relationship marked by physical or moral coercion. Papers based on empirical findings or on theoretical/methodological analysis are welcome, specially – but not exclusively –those based on narrative interviews and on theoretical perspectives that explore the subjectivity of those engaged in violent actions.
Some topics that could be approached are, for instance, how individuals with experiences of violence narrate and interpret their life trajectories; the subjective mechanisms of meaning construction, with special emphasis on the experiences with violence, and the ways authors of violent action establish their subjective foundation of belonging to their community/society. This session accepts papers in English, Spanish and French (the accepted authors of papers in Spanish and French will be asked to provide an extended abstract in English to the audience).
Biography, biographical research and politics. Part IIn a globalized world new forms of activism and social participation can transform entire governments, and activities of individuals can change the course of politics in democracies or totalitarian regimes regardless of the status of individuals in societies. Hence this session addresses the mutual interrelations between biography and politics. We would like to explore the biography of political activists of parties, NGO’s and social movements as well as the influences of political regimes on individual life courses. We invite papers which discuss connections of personal experiences with politics in contexts of peace, or on the contrary, in contexts of armed conflicts, poverty, inequality, violence, and social and political change at a national or international level.
Biography, biographical research and politics. Part IIIn a globalized world new forms of activism and social participation can transform entire governments, and activities of individuals can change the course of politics in democracies or totalitarian regimes regardless of the status of individuals in societies. Hence this session addresses the mutual interrelations between biography and politics. We would like to explore the biography of political activists of parties, NGO’s and social movements as well as the influences of political regimes on individual life courses. We invite papers which discuss connections of personal experiences with politics in contexts of peace, or on the contrary, in contexts of armed conflicts, poverty, inequality, violence, and social and political change at a national or international level.
Bodies in motionIn this session, we will be exploring the biographical implications of moving around in the world in terms of embodiment, identity, social practices, and the opportunities and constraints available to individuals for constructing meaningful or livable lives. Papers are welcomed which draw upon life history, phenomenological or ethnographical research in the fields of dance, sport, and disability. How do these different experiences of bodily movement (or inability to move) shape individuals’ feelings about their bodies and the kinds of stories they tell about them? And how might a biographical approach to bodies in motion contribute to sociological understandings of embodiment in the context of late modernity?
Food as a special symbol in the migration processThe session aims to deal with the meaning of food in the migration process. Various types of food consumption as codes for individuals views and behavior can be deciphered in terms of defining group boundaries, social status, political position, and economic class.
It is through the act of migration that “naturalization of the arbitraries in the established given order” (Bourdieu 1977: 164) in the land of origin becomes visible and even questioned as the home system is questioned and relativized. Connecting body, memories and cultural concepts food practices seem to be especially meaningful as they construct different identities in the (trans)migration process. They “define homes as well as cultural otherness” (Döring, Heide and Mühleisen 2003: 4), travel from the home to be “re-embedded in new lands and cultures” (Mintz 2003: 22) and “indigenized” (ibid.: 21) or “naturalized” (Kaufmann 2005: 47).
Following questions appear relevant to be discussed in the papers:
- How different images connected with food practices are articulated and construct different personal/collective identities of (trans)migrants? - What are controversies of different images used and presented in everyday food practices of (trans)migrants? - How different imaginary home images are created, manifested and modified through food practices of concerned actors?
Methodological Challenges in Biography ResearchIn this session we explore different ways of adapting the standard methodology of biography research to new or challenging issues related to a) rules for how a biographical interviews should proceed b) theoretical and disciplinary concepts for interpretation c) purpose of the inteview and d) the overall question of what counts as biographical material in the first place.
Pictures, biographies and familiesPictures are part of biographical and family processes in many ways. In everyday life practices we create a huge variety of visual images of ourselves and others (friends, families, colleagues, enemies etc.), and are confronted by them in turn. Personal photos are used in CVs, in passports and other personal documents as well as in many social networks. We keep photos from lovers, husbands, wives, children in pockets, sometimes framed as pictures in our flats, as sorted or unsorted collections in boxes, computer files, shared internet folders or traditional photo albums. We try to create and share memories from special situations, places and milieus, and to connect with those already gone. Photos are used to document dramatic events, and to deal with losses brought about by them.
This session invites papers addressing social processes of taking and using photos, films and videos which become biographically meaningful in the context of families, specific groups, milieus and societies.
RC38 Business Meeting
The foundation of professional identities in life experiencesThis session invites contributions of biographical and life history research into professional identities. It can be theoretical studies about the notion of profession, or empirical studies in the building of individual and collective professional identities. The notion of profession is used in a broad sense, embracing different use of term in different languages, referring to specialized and knowledge based occupations.
Professions are on one hand specialized cultures in themselves, standing out from the local community, and on the other hand they are related to the division of labour, institution building etc in a society – and they are fostered in individual careers based in life experiences which are local, gendered, class and ethnicity informed. Biographical studies can contribute to the understanding of the constitution of professions, and (auto)biographies as well as life history studies can give an insight into the experience process of professional identity building. Since professions are also strongly related to cultural context the session will include also comparative and contrasting papers.
Transnational family migrationsEmpirical studies have investigated the way in which transmigrants make use of their social relations and biographical identities in order to cope with contexts in which they constantly have to cross borders. In more recent empirical investigations, studies on transnational social spaces are identifying transnational families as most important new transnational institutions. Scholars investigating transnational forms of family migration identify transnational family decisions e.g. on education (as a condition for upward mobility) as sometimes traditional and gender biased. It is obvious that the intergenerational relations among migrant families play a crucial role in the migration process. However, we do not know much about the co-operation structures in transnational families and about the change of gender and power relations in transnational families within the last two generations.
In this call, we are inviting papers based on biographical research about different types of transnational migrant families in different regions of the world.
Victims and perpetrators in socio-political (post)conflict settingsPapers on life stories of people living in collective conflict or post-conflict settings are welcomed in this session.
The general questions are: what are the concrete biographical experiences of members of various conflict parties, in which way are their biographies constituted by the dynamic of the respective (post)conflict setting in interrelation to the voices of the other parties and the public discourses in general. Furthermore, it is important to ask, which voices are dominant in the public discourse and which ones are suppressed and censored. It is relevant to discover and to analyze the untold stories of the outsiders who remain in the shadow of the public discourse (Michael Jackson). The importance of these voices which are in the silence of the public, of the international or even of the scientific discourses needs to be considered in order to reconstruct the figurations of outsider- and established groupings in these settings.
Where are you from? Experiences of exclusion, marginalization and racism. Part IJoint session of RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations [host committee] and RC38 Biography and Society
In these joint sessions we intend to explore from a (micro) sociological perspective how people deal with experiences of exclusion, marginalisation and racism. In many countries all over the world the composition of citizens is now including a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds. The question ‘Where are you from?’ addressing the descent of ‘another one’, can be considered as expression of innocent true interest and empathy. However, the question itself always carries unintended connotations and is embedded in power relations and ethnic/ racial hierarchies; it can, therefore, be understood as discursive tool of ‘doing othering’.
We wish to invite scholars’ contributions to a debate on the biographical processing of a wide range of experiences of exclusion, with a preference for papers which deal with the complex analysis of these experiences from an intersectional perspective.
Where are you from? Experiences of exclusion, marginalization and racism. Part IIJoint session of RC05 Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations and RC38 Biography and Society [host committee]