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Entanglements

Art-making, Becoming Girl and Collective Biography

Marnina Gonick

This article analyses a set of stories and artworks that were produced in the context of a collective biography workshop. A Deleuzian framework is used to explore the entanglements that are produced through a cross-reading of different kinds of texts, each taking up the question of girlhood subjectivities. The analysis focuses on the contradiction and indeterminacy of meaning-making in the research process. The aim is to investigate how different kind of knowing and a different kind of knowledge(s) are produced in the movements between texts, sensation and affect.

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Religion through the Looking Glass

Fieldwork, Biography, and Authorship in Southwest China and Beyond

Katherine Swancutt

This article is an exploration into how a distinct fascination with the study of religion traverses the biographies of researchers who, through fieldwork, episodically enter into the life-worlds of the peoples they study. In it, I offer up ethnographic and autoethnographic reflections on the experiential crossroads and personal biographies that are perhaps as constitutive of religion as they are of the persons who study it. Through a discussion of interconnected events that arose during and outside of my anthropological fieldwork among the Nuosu, a Tibeto-Burman group of Southwest China, I highlight how Nuosu claims to authoring my biography have brought their animistic religion and culture, as well as its international import, further into focus for myself, local scholars, and rural Nuosu persons. My argument pivots around the idea that fieldwork-based researchers and their interlocutors often appropriate each other’s biographies in rather cosmic ways, thus revealing the historically, socially, and personally contingent qualities that are involved in studies of religion.

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From Pioneer of Comics to Cultural Myth

Castelao in Galician Graphic Biography

David Miranda-Barreiro

The multifaceted Galician artist, writer and politician Alfonso Daniel Rodríguez Castelao (1886–1950) has been considered a pioneer of Galician comics, or banda deseñada. This is because of his key role in the development of the medium from his early comic strips in the magazine Vida gallega [Galician life] (1909), to the cartoons that he published in the press in the 1920s and 1930s. Furthermore, Castelao has become a comics character in several graphic biographies since the end of the 1970s. This article not only addresses the reasons for the recurrent presence of Castelao in Galician comics, but it also looks at how the latter have contributed to the mythologisation of this important figure of Galician culture. In aesthetic terms, it will reveal the overlaps between adaptation, biography and comics by analysing all three of them as networks.

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Margareta von Oswald and Verena Rodatus

In Germany, the new cultural center Humboldt Forum (to open in 2019) has become a major site of debate. It will include the contested collections of both the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art, which contributed to the negotiation of the role of colonial legacies and their reverberances on contemporary Germany. We took those contestations as a point of departure for the exhibition Object Biographies (2015), part of the program Humboldt Lab Dahlem designed to experiment with innovative displays for the Humboldt Forum. Here we reexamine our research collaboration with the Beninese art historian Romuald Tchibozo that was part of the exhibition. His call for the “decolonization of research” was the central guideline in our museum practice aiming for cosmo-optimistic futures. We argue that focusing on processes and questions engaged by the exhibition project can transform contested museum spaces to enable negotiations on ownership, representation, and memory politics.

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A Woman Politician in the Cold War Balkans

From Biography to History

Krassimira Daskalova

This article is an attempt to shed more light on the topic of state socialist feminism in Eastern Europe by focusing on part of the biography of one of the most visible women’s activists and political functionaries in Bulgaria and Eastern Europe after 1944, Tsola Dragoicheva. It should be considered as a contribution to the ongoing debate regarding the character of state socialist measures toward women and the “gender contract” in the countries of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe between 1944 and 1989. It does not pretend, however, to cover and evaluate Dragoicheva’s entire life (or to agree with everything she did) or to create an exhaustive picture of state socialist measures toward women in Bulgaria (nor does it underestimate the significance of structured gender inequalities, which often remain unnoticed); rather, it discusses some facts and procedures dealing with “women’s issues” that researchers have only vaguely covered so far. The study is based on various archival materials from Bulgarian and international archives, and on the periodical press from the period under consideration, oral history interviews, and scholarly publications relevant to this topic. It is part of an ongoing project on Gendering Balkan Nation-States.

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Saskia Richter

This article uses the biography of the activist and Green Party co-founder Petra Kelly in order to rethink the Greens' founding process and to articulate a new conception of charismatic political leadership. It shows how Kelly used her activism in the new social movements as the basis for her leadership role in the Greens, and how her ongoing work in the peace movement provided her a means of maintaining power within the nascent party during the early 1980s. By examining Kelly's contributions to the Greens' approach to politics, the article shows that she was more than just a figurehead for the new party. Most importantly, the article shows that throughout her career as an activist and politician, Kelly used her biography to establish credibility and to support her unique style of charismatic leadership. The German public's response to Kelly reveals the influence of this charismatic leadership and shows how her movement-driven and biographically informed approach, which brought personal experiences and emotions into politics, was part of a larger transformation of the political in West Germany during the 1970s and 1980s.

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Collective Biography

An Introduction

Marnina Gonick and Susanne Gannon

In June 2011, seven feminist academics gathered to spend a week working together on a collective biography workshop in a small resort town, called Hawk’s Nest, in New South Wales, Australia. Some of us were senior faculty with prior experience with the methodology of collective biography, others were freshly minted or about to be minted PhDs who were totally new to the research methodology. Some of us knew each other from other contexts, and others were meeting for the first time. We were from five different university institutions, working in a range of fields in schools of Education.

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Dayna Prest

Marnina Gonick and Susanne Gannon (eds). 2015. Becoming Girl: Collective Biography and the Production of Girlhood. Toronto: Women’s Press.

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Bronwyn Davies, Marnina Gonick, Kristina Gottschall and Jo Lampert

This article analyzes a series of stories and artworks that were produced in a collective biography workshop. It explores Judith Butler's concept of the heterosexual matrix combined with a Deleuzian theoretical framework. The article begins with an overview of Butler's concept of the heterosexual matrix and her theorizations on how it might be disrupted. It then suggests how a Deleuzian framework offers other tools for analyzing these ruptures at the micro level of girls' everyday interactions.

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Park Honan

A report on my experience with Shakespeare: A Life may not be generally useful, but I shall touch on factors that are changing our view of literary biography. It helps to refer to oneself and to the matter of a biographer’s outlook and feelings, no matter how deplorable the feelings. Of course, what a biographer thinks or feels is irrelevant, in one sense.We don’t care what you may have felt, for heaven’s sake; we judge your work! That is proper as far as it goes, but outlook and preparedness count in this field and so I shall allude to those. My general view is that biography thrives when we regard it as highly sophisticated, entertaining, and moving, and able to depict as much about life as works of fiction can. This genre has a certain relation to music and painting in its possible intensity. ‘All that is not useful’, says Matisse, ‘is detrimental to the effect’; the same applies to biographical narratives. Shakespeare’s life offers a special challenge, but not for any dire lack of evidence. Much depends on what use is made of abundant facts about Tudor Stratford, for example, and so on a personal attitude. My early attitude to Shakespeare was romantic and poor. For some time I thought of him as semi-divine, or as being ‘more than a man’. If I liked ‘Prufrock’, that was for its Hamlet allusions mainly. Later at University College in London, I was taken aback when my supervisor asked me to read something besides Shakespeare before trying to write a PhD thesis on the tragedies. I wrote two plays, both staged by London groups, but reviewed harshly in student newspapers, except for a remark to the effect that ‘Honan is incapable of writing anything but duologues, rather like Shakespeare in Two Gentlemen of Verona’. Finally I wrote a thesis on Browning partly because ‘Caliban upon Setebos’ reminded me of The Tempest.