Symposium: Looking at Lives: Research on Refugee Biographies



Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, main building room Agora 1 | De Boelelaan 1081 | Amsterdam

International Symposium: ‘Looking at Lives: Research on Refugee Biographies'

Giorgos Tsiolis, Susan Bell, Roswitha Breckner

Register for the symposium

Faculty of Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Conference / Symposium / Seminar

09-24 Internationaal SymposiumBiographical research is eminently suited for investigating the life experiences of individuals who have been forced to leave their countries of origin due to conflict situations or conditions of economic precariousness. Since biographical methods are relatively unfamiliar to researchers in the field of migration and refugee studies, internationally-known researchers in the field of biographical research have been invited to address in the morning session the challenges (cultural, methodological, ethical, linguistic) involved in doing biographical research, with a particular focus on the life stories of refugees. In the afternoon session, there will be a hands-on workshop in which participants will practice analyzing and interpreting iconic photographs of refugees that have appeared in the media as well as photographs that refugees have made of their own journeys. The symposium will conclude with a book presentation and party to celebrate the recently published Contested Belonging: Spaces, Practices, Biographies (eds. Kathy Davis, Halleh Ghorashi, Peer Smets).

Invited speakers

  • Giorgos Tsiolis (Associate Professor on Qualitative Methods in Sociological Research, University of Crete,  Rethymno, Greece) will talk about some of the different ways biographical research is currently done, especially in conjunction with ethnographical field work.
  • Susan Bell (Professor of Sociology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA) will discuss some of the dilemmas she has faced in doing research in the US with immigrants and refugees in hospital settings.
  • Roswitha Breckner (Associate Professor, Sociology, University of Vienna, Austria and President of the ISA RC Biography & Society) will provide a hands-on workshop on the analysis of refugee photo’s drawing upon biographical research and visual sociology.

Register for the symposium now