"You won't mention it, will you?" - On emotional and ethical dilemmas in doing biographical research
Social Sciences Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Germany
In this paper, I will analyze some emotional and ethical dilemmas that I was confronted with while conducting biographical narrative interviews for my PhD thesis about migration processes, ethnicity and gender constructions in biographies of migrant women. With the help of case study vignettes and some interview sequences I will firstly show what kind of dilemmas emerged during the interviewing. Secondly, I will explain how these dilemmas were solved in the particular situation. Thirdly, I will discuss what kind of theoretical challenges these dilemmas pose to the method of biographical narrative interviewing in particular and to the biographical research in general. Consequently, I seek to challenge the method of biographical narrative interviewing just as a means of data collection. I will discuss this method from an interactive point of view as a reciprocal un/balanced power relation that demands emotion work, feeling rules, body management, and ethical reasoning. The lingering questions are, however, how to integrate these aspects in the analysis of the biographical narrative interviews and what epistemological and methodological consequences should be drawn from this.