Always ‘Discursively Negotiated’ – Using Intersectionality in Biographical Research

Monday, 16 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Tina SPIES, University of Potsdam, Germany
Elisabeth TUIDER, University of Kassel, Germany
Analyzing life stories in the context of post-colonialism and migration reinforced once again one of the basic assumptions of biographical research: that patterns of individual structuring and processing of experiences are produced within powerful social contexts, and that therefore biographical narrations always refer to social norms and discourses (cf. Dausien et al. 2005). Gender, ethnicity, and class are both social structure categories and biographical positionings that are (re)produced and performed, resisted and negotiated in biographical narrations.

In this respect, an intersectional perspective brings an advantage for biographical research as “it allows the researcher to explore how axes of difference and power are discursively negotiated by differently located individuals as they talk about their experiences, their life stories, and their identities” (cfp). At the same time, there remains a vacancy pertaining to methodological and methodical questions when using an intersectional approach: The interwovenness of biographies and discourses (cf. Spies/Tuider 2017) is not considered sufficiently in intersectional analysis.

Following Stuart Hall and his concept of articulation, as well as Judith Butler and her post-sovereign subject, our paper deals with the sex mob narratives in Germany that flared up again as a consequence of the moral panic after the alleged sexual assaults by young migrants and refugees during the New Year’s Eve celebrations of 2015/2016. In this context, our point is to identify the specific subject positioning of the ‘sexually dangerous Muslim refugee’ as a new ‘ethno-sexism’ (Dietze 2016) and to develop an understanding of subjectivation that not only brings together the categories of sex/gender/religion/ethnicity but also considers the discursive context in the sense of power/knowledge/subject/agency.

This paper

- conceptualizes theoretically the axes of difference and power as well as experiences of exclusion and marginalization always as ‘discursively negotiated’

- develops methodologically an understanding of subjectivation that pleads for negotiations, obstinacy, and contextualization.