Biography: Method and Suggestions to Ethnographers


MILLI FOLKLOR, vol.2017, no.116, pp.73-86, 2017 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 2017 Issue: 116
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.73-86
  • Keywords: Biography, anthropology, folklore, cultural memory, memory
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Biography is a method and data source for anthropology as Well as literature and social sciences. The method has been used in the USA anthropology since 1920's. The subject of biography can be a member of researched community as well as an anthropologist him/herself. The biography of anthropologist is important for anthropology because it contains data from three parallel histories: Individual history, institution of anthropology and theory of the science. For this reason, biographies of the subjects from these two groups are mentioned and presented as examples in the article. First aim of the article, which anthropology and folklorist are targeted as readers, is to introduce biography as a method. Considering that the classical method of anthropology and folklore is ethnography, in the article is focused that interactive biography writing style which it occurs in cooperation with ethnographer and the subject of biography (an ethnographer or a member of researched community). Second aim of the article is to make practical suggestions for in this style that interactive biography studies. Precisely for this reason, biography is examined with "subject", "representation and desire", "memory", "narrative style" and "writing" dimensions. Some of the evaluations and findings made under these titles can be listed as follows: For some names such as Pierre Bourdieu and Marc Auge, relationship between biography and chronology is an illusion; chronological order may be deceptive and, the age and time perception of the subject may be different from the social description of age and time. The relationship between the willingness of the subject and depth of the content, remembering, and time of the interview are directly related to each other. Memory is a main tool of the biographic research. In order to understand dimensions and features of the memory, some terms should be used such as "remember ways", "the bump in the reminiscence", "recall effect", "collective memory". It was determined that subjects use four narration types for telling the memories: "Literalize", "instantaneity", 'logic chain", and "detached memories. A recorded biography should be evaluated ethically before it is archived or printed. Writing styles that used anthropologist's auto/biography can be grouped into three categories: Academic and personal life with backstage facts; chronologic personal life and successes; written in the name of deceased by gathering of various documents.