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Session Overview
JS_RN02_RN03_10: Performative and Arts-Based Methods in Biographical Research
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Chris Mathieu, Lund University
Session Chair: Lyudmila Nurse, University of Oxford
Location: GM.307
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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A Migrant’s Biography as Art.

Justyna Kijonka

University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland

The works of art derive from the artists’ personal experiences, and sometimes even a traumatic event, but when it tells the story of not only the individual artist but the common experience – in this case – of migrants, it is especially engrossing for sociologists.

The aim of this paper is to analyse the biography of migrants in the context of the palimpsest graphic art “Ilebiland” (1992-93) by Brygida Wróbel-Kulik, which is w graphic representation of the biographies of individuals of German descent who had migrated to Germany. Brygida Wróbel-Kulik put her own experiences and significant symbolic information on real maps (labyrinth, spiral, significant colours). Her work is a tale about migrating, questing for a promised land and homeland. The border as an experience (series “Stany Graniczne/Grenzzustände”, 1978-1984), which is also common for my interlocutors plays an important role in this series.

The paper is based on research that I carried out on migrants who came to the Federal Republic of Germany from Upper Silesia in Poland as “(Spät-)Aussiedler” – “ethnic Germans” between 1970 and 2000.

Frames of Live: The Visual-Verbal Interplay in Photo-Biographical Research

Ana Gonçalves1,2, Alexandre Bergamo3

1Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Av. Professor Aníbal de Bettencourt, 9, 1600-189 Lisboa, Portugal; 2Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL), Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia, Lisboa, Portugal; 3Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina - UFSC, Florianópolis, Brasil

As a research tool, photography is being used, with increasing frequency, in social sciences. Therefore, in recent years, it has been faced and problematized in a much more profound manner. Nevertheless, despite such overall achievement, it is still quite common that pictures turn up in social studies mainly as a way of capturing and displaying the various and passing aspects of life. That is why most of the images included in them show panoramas or details of social contexts, collective and personal activities, primary and secondary groups or individuals.

This proposal aims to contribute to the discussion of photography within the biographical research, viewing it as a specific medium of life narratives. Besides, it provides an opportunity to put side by side researches, based simultaneously on visual and biographical data, lately conducted in Portugal and Brazil.

Drawing from particular cases, we intend to be attentive to matters of generating, recording, and transmitting memories and stories, while we will take a closer look at the mutual interference of the visual and the verbal in the biographical act, and show how this inflected gender and class relations. The empirical data also will allow us to identify how personal and collective narratives get involved in the process of fabrication of images, and how photographs might provoke (in the double sense of stimulating and challenging) memories in both oral and written testimonies.

Creative Applications Of Biographical Research Methods; thoughts on the inter-disciplinarity, analysis and interpretation of biographical data

Maggie ONeill1, Lyudmila Nurse2

1UCC, Ireland; 2Oxford University, UK

Since the publication of two editions of the Handbuch Biographieforschung. Springer VS (Lutz, H., Schiebel, M. and E. Tuider [editors] ) in  2018, to which we contributed our chapter: Nurse, L, & O’Neill, M (2018) Biographical Research in the UK: profiles and perspectives, which provides an overview of developments and new dimensions in biographical research in the UK, we have been re-visiting work and publications of the colleagues whose biographical work we reviewed in the chapter.  In the proposed paper, we reflect on the challenges of selecting materials for the chapter due to the wide variety of creative applications of biographical methods in the UK and continue our search for an interactive platform for exchanging best practices. We have been also reflecting on the status of the analytical tools that biographical researchers developed over the last decades and on the increasing multi-disciplinarity of biographical studies.

Assemblage of Memory. A Female Experience of Memory Transmission and Performance

Katarzyna Niziołek

University of Białystok, Poland

The paper is aimed at presenting and discussing an interdisciplinary, collaborative research project that - as I believe - directly addresses the session aim of approaching creative applications of performative methods and their contributions to the development of biographical narrative research. Thematically, it is devoted to the history of so-called “bieżeństwo”, which was a migration of people from eastern Poland forced by the retreating Russian Army in 1915 (during the First World War), when the Germans broke the eastern frontline. The stories of those refugees, among whom a large number were peasants of Belarusian origin and women with children, make a crucial part of the regional history that - for one reason, due to its gendered nature - has been transmitted mostly within families. Methodologically, the approach applied in the project is based on participatory theatre that engages non-artists both as content providers, and on-stage performers. Consequently, the paper is focused on the project participants, all females, and their experience of memory transmission and performance. Both the topic (memory of “bieżeństwo”), and the method (participatory theatre) are briefly introduced to raise questions of the scientific possibilities and limitations of such an interdisciplinary, theatre-based approach to qualitative research.

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