Behind Methodological Nationalism? How to Analyze Migration and Social Mobility in Biographical Research

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Tina SPIES, University of Potsdam, Germany
In the age of globalization migration and social mobility constitute major challenges for qualitative social research and particularly for the implementation of biographical approaches. The subjects of research are people that are not only located in one (home) context, but rather move between different contexts. These contexts are affected by different discourses and therefore promote or require different narratives.

When analyzing a specific biographical narration of social mobility these contexts and discourses are to be considered. Equally, I as a researcher have to be aware of my own context: Within which discourses am I involved? Which hypotheses am I using when interpreting a biography? Where are blind spots of my own research?

The paper discusses biographical research in transnational contexts exemplified by a biographical narration of a young woman that migrated from Kazakhstan to Germany. On the one hand, this theory deals with the influence of discourses on biographical narratives and, on the other hand, with the researcher’s interpretations. Furthermore, transnational, postcolonial, and intersectional approaches are important in this context. The questions that therefore arise are as follows: How can we reconstruct different positions within intersectional discourses? How can we work with multiple belongings and the becoming at the intersection of different social contexts (and therefore of different discourses)? And, lastly, how can we avoid the criticism of methodological nationalism in the age of globalization?