Conference Agenda

RN03_03: Biography and Memory
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Katarzyna Waniek, University of Lodz
Location: GM.334
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


1968 in Poland – Biography and Memory

Andrzej Czyżewski

University of Lodz, Poland

In March 1968 Poland witnessed both an anti-Semitic and anti-intellectual campaign which led to the arrest of hundreds of people and forced thousands to leave their country. Therefore, there are at least two main motifs in the collective memory of those events, based mostly on biographical experience that emphasises the perspective of political events taking place in Warsaw.

The aim of the presentation is not to question this “central” version of collective memory, but to possibly supplement it with the biographical experiences of the participants of March ’68 in Łódź who, in this context, represent the “peripheral” memory. In other words, this analysis seeks an answer to the question whether there are any variants of the phenomenon referred to in the literature as the March ’68 generation, in which apart from the “central” version there is also a “peripheral” one related to a different community of experience and different ways of interpreting it.

This presentation is based on an analysis of interviews conducted with participants of March ’68 in Łódź, and on the assumption that the wider use of analytical tools provided by the biographical method might be a potential opportunity to extend the existing interpretive patterns of interviews with the participants of March ’68. The list of potential benefits from such a research perspective includes going beyond the scope of history as perceived from the point of view of political events, the course of which is determined by a small group of people, towards analyses of social ideas understood in a more egalitarian way.

Narrative Construction Of Generational Experience In Latvian Life Stories

Edmunds Šūpulis

University of Latvia, Latvia

Biographies demonstrate a variety of trajectories, resources and opportunities, choices and acting strategies. It may be reflected through life stories, which are studied like personal experience narratives developed along the master scripts and collective memory. However, in some approaches the notion of generation is utilized to describe the social dimension of life stories (see Passerini 1996). Generally generation refers to an age-defined subgroup, where individuals are exposed to and shaped by similar historical events and experiences (Mannheim 1927), which in turn generate a ‘community of perception’ (Olick 1999). In this way, it provides a space where memory and identity, change and transformation are problematized and performed (Assmann and Shortt 2012). In my paper I focus on interplay between memory and formation of generational experience. Historic shifts, wars and changes in value systems left deep impact on people’s biographies especially in Eastern Europe and the Baltics (Aarelaid-Tart and Bennich-Björkman 2012). What kind of historic generations can scholars locate studying biographies and narratives there? We are aware of similarities and diversity in terms of history and nation-making within the space once covered by Soviet power. Therefore, there must be particular factors used for different contexts to recognize relevant generations. Historic turning points have driven dynamics into the formation of generations and open a question about subtle generational consciousness. I will use biographic interviews from Oral history archive in Latvia to elaborate generational model and compare it with similar approaches from Estonia (Kirss, Kõresaar, and Lauristin 2004; Jõesalu 2016).

Winners And Losers Of The Process Of Tansformation From The Biographical Perspective.

Kaja Kazmierska

University of Lodz, Poland

One of the common and schematic descriptions in the perspective of the 1989 breakthrough are two ways of dealing with it by people who are respectively called winners or losers of the of the process of transformation. These stereotypical characteristics are not only the tool to draw the general image of effects of transition but are also based on the specific way of interpretation deeply rooted in neoliberal perspective. In my presentation I would like to present some findings of the project Experience of the Process of Transformation in Poland in Biographical Perspective. Sociological Comparative Analysis based on the collection of autobiographical narrative interviews with people born in three decades: 60.,70. and 80. I will show that the categorization of winners and losers not only simplifies the description of social reality but also is difficult to be easily biographically justified. The etic categorization not always is relevant to the emic perspective. It can be also noticed when we compare life history of an individual - showing the main phases and events of biography - with his/her life story – the way that an individual interprets biographical experiences. The analysis of these two aspects of biography (what is lived through and it is interpreted) shows how people dealt with the process of transformation. I will discuss the topic by presenting some cases of narratives.

Reception And Integration: The Narrative Of The Riace Case

Paolo Contini1, Angela Mongelli2

1Facoltà Teologica Pugliese, Italy; 2Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro

The migratory phenomenon in Italy is at the heart of the political debate for a while already. It has resulted in different narrations that divided the public opinion considerably, with meaningful political consequences for our Country. The Riace case, which refers to a little town in the Tyrrhenian Calabria, emerges as “extremetype” within the framework of the common actions of the SPRAR (Sistema di Protezione per Richiedenti Asilo e Rifugiati; i.e. the Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees), and it is also a contentious matter.

Thinking a case in point is that of Riace, the aim of this speech is to describe the way of constructing narratives aimed at rousing public opinion, shifting the focus of attention from the factual dimension of the migratory phenomenon to the symbolic dimension. This is justified by the fact that migrations are a real phenomenon as well they have a dimension related to the sphere of imagination, i.e. the culturally constructed.

The narratives on the facts of Riace, featuring its mayor, Domenico Lucano, were retrieved from some particularly representative Italian newspapers, from October 2018 to January 2019, and elaborated through textual analysis conducted with the T-Lab software, will show how the “supporters-detractors” polarisation does not have as its object the “substance” of the action of Lucano, but rather the but rather the former focus on the merits, the latter on the method, using -the detractors- the method to discredit the merit and failing, however, to debase the value and the behavioral content.