Author:Tatiana Bajuk Sencar (ZRC SAZU)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the extent to which biographical narratives and the use of the biographical method can be used to shed light on experiences of integration and shifting constructions of identity within the EU institutions.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores the extent to which biographical narratives and the use of the biographical method can be used to shed light on experiences of integration and shifting constructions of identity within the EU institutions after the last two rounds of enlargement. This discussion is based on an anthropological study of the first generation of Slovenes that became employed in the EU institutions, a study that includes approximately 50, minimally-directed interviews in which interlocutors narrate their professional and life experiences. The collection of narratives using the biographical method can provide an important complement to traditional forms of anthropological fieldwork given the challenges inherent in conducting field research among social actors that are dispersed across a number of varied yet interconnected institutions. To develop this argument I will focus on the relationship between interviewer and interviewee that is created in the implementation of the biographical method and assess the extent to which such a relationship can provide the means for understanding the ground-level processes of identification and differentiation that shape the daily life of my interlocutors. More specifically, I will portray how biographical or professional narratives enable me to shed light on the ways in which my interlocutors employ overlapping and sometimes competing understandings of knowledge, expertise and professionalism acquired as important sites for identity construction in a transnational environment.
Exploring the biographical method