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Making Individual Memory Visible in the Public Space. Third ISA Forum
10-14 July 2016, Vienna (Austria)

Both traditional historical and classical memory narratives were greatly determined by the recollection of the figure of the hero. National identities were built around the heroic deeds of the great man who then served as historical, social and cultural models for the particular society. Within this process of inscribing the exemplarity of heroes into collective memory the public space (through its statues, street names, memorial plaques and other memorial signs) typically played an essential role. What happens, however, when the everyday man takes over the urban space?
Both social history and qualitative sociology (especially biographical research) “discovered” the everyday men behind macro historical events: these trends cannot imagine the understanding of society without the understanding of the experiences of the individual.
The proposed session intends to elaborate the relationship of individual memories and the urban space in the format of a regular session, focusing on the following questions: How does the biography of everyday man become articulated in the urban space and how does others’ biographical presentation affect its own? How do urban experiences and public representations become part of the narration of the individual’s life story? How do memories of the everyday man increasingly flood the public space (see examples commemorating everyday man such as the Stolpersteine project) and how does the individual challenge particular memorials (see vandalization of statues)? How do collective and individual processes of remembering mutually shape each other in and through the urban space?

Abstract Submission: 14 April 2015 - 30 September 2015 24:00 GMT
Anyone interested in presenting a paper should submit an abstract on-line to the session on the following link: http://www.isa-sociology.org/forum-2016/

Seminar Biography at 13th ESSE Conference
22-26 August 2016, Galway, Ireland
Deadline proposals: February 28, 2016

Biographical Studies are emerging as a field of research in the humanities, at a crossroads between several disciplines. This seminar would welcome contributions to the study of biography as a genre, considering that it raises specific issues that distinguish it from autobiography. It would equally be interested in approaches to the practice of biography as a method of academic research, from microhistory to literature and cultural studies. For instance, individual papers may address theoretical questions, case studies of particular biographers’ works, the history and the poetics of biography, the impact of the biographical turn, the evolution of biographical dictionaries, or the innovative influences of the biopic and digital humanities.
Paper proposals should be addressed to the conveners:
Pr Joanny Moulin, Aix-Marseille University, joanny.moulin@univ-amu.fr
Pr Hans Renders, University of Groningen, j.w.renders@rug.nl

Writing herself in the World: Women’s autobiography and relationship to the world
14-15 October 2016, University of Paris Ouest Nanterre (France)
"Our sweetest existence is both relative and collective, and our true self does not reside solely within us," Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote in Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques. If autobiography is indeed the reflective act of a remembering self, this self is never an isolated subject and the world is never only a mere stage set for reminiscing. Sociologist Maurice Halbwachs wrote, "we never remember alone." Are not the interior and the exterior worlds simply two faces of the same reality? Annie Ernaux, who borrowed Rousseau's phrase in her Journal du dehors/ Exteriors, introduces herself as "crossed by people and their existence like a whore," since her relationship to the world is not only an objective of her mind, but a physical and erotic link too. In How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves (1999), Paul John Eakin encourages us to demystify the self-referential narrative seen as autodiegetic, where the first person subject would first and foremost refer to itself. Eakin states that the first person of autobiography is truly plural in its origins and subsequent formation. He proposes the terms "relational self" and "relational life," arguing that all identity is relational and all self-writing is at the crossroads of biography and autobiography, which positions the narrating subject in a larger context—that of the family, the community and the ethnic group. A writing of inwardness may also be perceived as an inscription of otherness and of “formerness.” To write is not only to become an individual, but also to recognize the presence of others in the making of the self.
Autobiography, which is traditionally associated with a certain subjective idealism, is not expected to fully engage with the world, while memoirs, a genre preferred by Anglo Saxon women, position the writing subjects in a larger environment. As Nancy Miller insisted, memoirs do not draw a clear line between the public and the private since emphasizing the role of the outside world amounts to some socio-political, cultural or ethical risk. It means inhabiting and reappropriating the public space, becoming visible, sharing one's experience and offering a reflection on history and society. For Helen M. Buss, memoirs are not only representations of women’s personal lives but also of their desire to repossess important parts of our culture, in which women’s stories have not mattered.
From this perspective, the autobiographical project is akin to sociology or history, which it completes without replacing. What historical value can we attribute to autobiography? What is the relation between autobiography and cultural memory? Between autobiography and counter-memory? Autobiography and photography?
Beyond the traditional (written) forms of autobiographical narrative, we are interested in other, more contemporary, forms of autobiographical projects. Several themes may be explored:
1) The autobiographical narrative as testimony/reappropriation/intervention: how do women participate as witnesses of their time? What narrative strategies do they use to combine/separate/mix individual and collective discourses, private and public discourses? How do women write narratives of historical events or of "conditions of being"? Specific genres such as war stories or slave narratives could be studied.
2) Autobiography and 'postmemory' (Hirsch): when second or third generations recount the trauma (war, exile, decolonization, poverty) endured by previous generations in diasporic memoirs, or working class memoirs (Jeanette Winterson, Carolyn Steedman).
3) The places of memory: what is the relation of women’s autobiography to space-time? How is the place of memory represented (cf the garden world of Jamaica Kincaid in My Garden (Book))? What role does it play in the construction of the narrative identity in narratives of exile and of migration, such as ethnic culinary memoirs (Myriam's Kitchen)? How are the conditions of being part of several worlds and of the postcolonial self expressed?
4) Autobiography in the world's web: the Self in the virtual world. Do on-line journals increase our connectedness to the world or do they leave us more isolated?
5) Autobiography and the image of (the self in the) world: the referentiality of images tested against writing (photographs inserted into the autobiographical text as visual transmission / mediation between the self and the world, graphic memoirs, etc...); the intersection between personal, political and photographic autobiographies (Jo Spence)
Papers will be given in English (preferred language) or French
200-400 word abstracts (and short bios) should be sent by June 15th 2016 to the co-organizers:
Claire Bazin: cbaz1@wanadoo.fr and Corinne Bigot: corinne.bigot@wanadoo.fr