The auto/biographical of the narrative: methodological and theoretical approaches in the researching of the migration experiences
The text shows how the auto/biographical methods developed in the sociological research and how widespread they have become in gender and migration studies. The applicability of these methods and approaches is described through migration studies, which are focused on women migrants, their experiences and identities. Identity is defined as a construction within the discursive practices, especially dynamic and changing in the migrancy contexts. The text describes a direct link between subjectivity in gender studies and the notion of migrancy on the field of culture as a scene of the identity clashes.
KEY WORDS: auto/biography, narrative, identity, migration experience, migrancy
The text is composed of two parts: the first one presents an overview of the development of the narrative and auto/biographical methods. The oral history method was re-introduced in the field of cultural and social historiography only a few decades ago. It represents the »democratization« of the history because it gives the voice to the ordinary people to describe the historical events through their own experience. In the development of the women studies since 1960., this approach gained the importance because the women, or better to say, gender studies, evolved especially to give the voice to the historically neglected »half of the population«. The importance of the auto/biographical method is obvious since the gender studies intended to explore the experiences of women, to make them visible and to rely on their interpretation of the historical and social phenomena. Of course, the field of gender studies and the use of narrative methods have got sophisticated over decades and the text presents some relevant authors and their theoretical and methodological contribution to the auto/biographical approach. This approach is presented as a useful tool for the research of the experiences in the migrancy contexts. The text uses an oral history project on Slovenian women migrants’ experiences in the United states of america as a link between the first and the second part of the text and an illustration of different points made by the mentioned authors.
The second part adds to the text an overview of the development in the field of migration studies since 1984. Then, a thematic issue of the International Migration review launched an appeal to the researchers to explore the migration processes as gendered phenomena and to start working more on women migrants. A fruitful combination of this appeal and the already more broadly use of the narrative methods has brought about many studies focused on experiences of the women migrants all over the world from historical and contemporary point of view. With these studies, the knowledge on migration was enriched and radically transformed. It was enriched because a lot of aspects of migrancy, for example the (ethnic) community building, could not be understood without the contribution of women migrants. It was also transformed because today it is generally accepted that migration is gendered defined phenomena in which we have to take into consideration different experiences of men and women, different roles, status and procedures they tend to achieve in the migrancy contexts. Above all, it is clear today that beside the economic, political and other macro causes for migration, there is the whole world of intimate, family, neighbourhood, social networks factors that cause the moving of the people. Without that element, we can hardly understand migrations and migrants at all.