Plural Affiliations in Biographies: A Complex Positioning in Different Social Contexts.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Gwendolyn GILLIERON, phd Candidate, Switzerland
Dominant discourses and attributions have a big impact on the daily life of migrant descendants. They are fundamental in the process of in- and exclusion of individuals.  Descendants of binational families present a particular case, as they are at the same time in- and outsiders in the dominant society. However, their plural affiliations aren’t yet recognized and they are challenged to position themselves within their mixed origin. The ambiguity of their origin is visible in the biographies, where they position themselves toward the hegemonic discourse and their own sense of belonging.

In the presentation I will discuss the examination of “being different” and the impact of (possible) attributions on the self-presentation of young binational adults. Further I will show how hegemonic discourses have a significant impact on what is told and how it is presented. In the biographies the binational origin is constructed in very different ways, according to the origin and the discourse about this origin. While in some narratives a construction of “being ordinary” or “being special” can be observed, others do not mention or even refuse to talk about their origin. In this case not only the experiences of the interviewee are relevant, but also the discourse and the context of the interview situation itself.

The presentation will be based on empirical example from my ongoing dissertation. I will show in which ways the construction of a biography is an interplay between the interviewee and the interviewer and the discourses and contexts they are situated in. I argue that in biographies about belonging the positioning of the interviewee and the researcher can be reconstructed, as well as more general social contexts that influence self-thematization of the interviewees and thus have to be reflected particularly.