Biographical approaches serve to explore the diverse roles of individuals within social structures. By bringing together society and subjectivity, biographies help to investigate how individuals are determined by the larger surroundings and how they, at the same time, shape these very structures. Moreover, biographical perspectives allow us to bring together the wide range of theories and methods offered in the humanities, cultural studies, and social sciences into manageable research projects.
Picking up these threads, the Center for Biographics (Zentrum für Biographik, ZetBi) aims to support theoretically informed biographical research. At the same time, it is designed to be a forum for dealing with practical research questions, i.e. regarding issues of narration, presentation, or the role of the biographer.
Since its establishment in 2006, the center’s activities concentrate on regular workshops usually devoted to a specific research topic. During the workshops, ZetBi members and young scholars present their work and discuss a wide range of biographical questions with invited experts. A number of disciplines are represented at the ZetBi, including history, literary studies, the history of science and medicine, art history, film and theatre studies, psychology, sociology, gender studies, political science and the comparative study of religions and religious cultures. ZetBi cooperates with various institutions in Germany and other countries.
The topics of the annual gatherings reflect ZetBi’s interdisciplinary character: They include, for instance, issues of family, materiality, bodily practices, and performativity in biographical stories. A more detailed description of the respective meetings (in German) can be found here.