Accepted Paper:

Knowing Me, Knowing your Mum: (Auto)biographical researching  


Delyth Edwards (Queen's University Belfast)

Paper short abstract:

The theme of this paper will consider the benefits and also the drawbacks the biographical background of the researcher can have when researching a seldom heard group; the Orphan. Being the daughter of an orphan has been advantageous in my research, but has not guaranteed easy access or trust from all potential interviewees.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is based on my ongoing PhD research which aims to explore, through the application of the (auto)biographical interview and the analysis of the life (hi)story, how women who grew up in a catholic and girls only children's Home in Belfast during the 1940s and 1950s interpret and re-tell their biographies and the ways they (re)construct experience and ontology (or ontologies) of the self (Hankiss 1981).

Orphan hood is seldom dealt with in biographical research because of the stigma attached to such a concept, a biography. Very rarely do people disclose to have been brought up in care, even to their own families. Being the daughter of an orphan has presented me with a certain understanding and familiarity with my research and with my interviewees, which has been both enabling and debilitating.

The paper will expand on issues that have arisen from the gaining access process and interview sessions. Firstly, the paper will begin with a brief consideration of the term 'orphan', what it means in society and what it means to my participants. Secondly, the discussion will move on to consider the unexpected complexity involved when gaining access. Thirdly, the paper will shift to consider the interview experiences I have had so far and the advantages and disadvantages being 'Lily's' daughter has had on the interview setting. Finally the paper will conclude with a consideration of the benefits (auto)biographical interviewing can have for understanding and listening to seldom heard groups from their point of view.

Panel P12
The use of the Interview by peer and user researchers with 'seldom heard' groups