Archiv der Kategorie: thesis

Schlagzeilenbattle.

1) bei diesem ganzen Weltwirtschaftsuntergangs-trara beginne ich nun doch was an dieser Maya-Prophezeiung zu finden. Außerdem kommt mir meine Diss grad so unwichtig vor. Wenn ich wenigstens über irgendwas mit Wirtschaft schreiben würde!

2) vor dieser Situation flüchte mich dann natürlich in Katzenvideos und die Schisaison. Letztere treibt schlagzeilenmäßig aber momentan wilde Blüten:

Gabs da ein Preisausschreiben für die schlechtesten sexy Wortwitze? Zum Glück bin ich leicht zu unterhalten.

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Eingeordnet unter economy for everyone, irgendwas mit medien, thesis

Grenzen überschreiten

Na dann hab ich mich heute tatsächlich in die Bibliothek begeben – zwar schmilzt mensch dort bei gleichzeitigem Wasserflaschenverbot (keine gute Umwelt für Evas mit niedrigem Blutdruck), aber die Gesellschaft ist nett und die Lektüre gar nicht so fad wie gedacht. Thematisch heut „in da Reissn“ [Anm.: = „in Bearbeitung“ auf nicht-Hochdeutsch] : Alfred Schütz, Peter L.Berger und Thomas Luckmann sowie Anke Abraham und die Rosenthals – vereint gegen meinen Allzeit-Helden Pierre Bourdieu. Ein Drama mit offenem Ausgang.

Wer das noch nicht mitbekommen hat: Wäre ich nicht so feige, dann ließe ich mir ein „Pierre Bourdieu“ – Herz mit Pfeil auf den Oberarm tätwoieren. Er war meine erste große Liebe was sozialwissenschaftliche TheoretikerInnen angeht, Karl Marx kam da nie auch nur ansatzweise ran. Bis vor Kurzem dachte ich, er sei fehlerlos. Jetzt weiß ich, er ist es nicht: Er hat das sozialwissenschaftliche Potenzial, das in der Biografieforschung steckt, verkannt. In einem seiner Texte (Die Biographische Illusion) erklärt er polemisch (wie es halt seine Art ist…), dass die Analyse einer einzigen Lebensgeschichte in etwa so sinnvoll sei, als würde mensch bei dem Versuch, etwas über ein U-Bahnnetz herauszufinden, sich nur eine einzige Linie davon ansehen und die Kreuzungspunkte ignorieren. Was ein biografisches Ereignis bedeutet, kann mensch nach Bourdieu immer erst dann wissen, wenn es im sozialen Feld kontextualisiert wurde. Wenn irgendwer Chefin von Unternehmen A wird, müsste ich als Forscherin herausfinden, welche Kapitalverknüfpungen (Bekanntschaften, Geld, Prestige…) mit der Position verbunden sind, um bewerten zu können, ob sie z.B. gesellschaftlich auf- oder abgestiegen ist.

Zugegeben, ich hab den Text erst auf Google Books überflogen, aber ich glaub da verkennt der Gute sein eigenes Konzept von Gesellschaft.

Biografieforschung ist ja deshalb spannend, weil sie zeigt, wie Menschen mit von ihnen nicht beeinflussbaren Dingen umgehen. Was tun sie, wenn ein Krieg kommt, sie krank werden, sie Geld erben…? Bei Theorien des Sozialen ist es ja normalerweise immer so ne Sache: Entweder sie sagen, die Menschen können sowieso alles total individuell und rational entscheiden, oder sie rekurrieren auf irgendwelche halb-mystischen sozialen Systeme, die sie recht elaboriert beschreiben, in der aber keine einzige konkrete Handlung eines Menschens vorkommt. In der Synthese dieses konzeptuellen Problems haben sich oben genannte AutorInnen versucht (auch Bourdieu), sie kamen zu ähnlichen Schlüssen: Beides – Struktur und Individuum spielen eine Rolle. Themen wie Alltagsbewusstsein, Alltagswissen, Reflexion, die Herausbildung von Sinnstrukturen und Sozialsationsprozesse kommen bei allen vor. Alle außer Bourdieu finden aber, dass gerade Biografien zeigen, wie diese Themen in einem konkreten Menschen zu tragen kommen, was er damit anfängt und an seine Umwelt zurückgibt.

Das ist ja eigentlich bei Bourdieu auch ne wichtige Frage. Sein „Habitus“ entsteht ja durchwegs aus solchen Sozialisationsprozessen und zeigt sich im alltäglichen Handeln. Der Habitus ist Mittler zwischen dem Ich und der Umwelt, er markiert die Grenzen jener Welt, die ein Mensch nicht verlassen kann. Wie sich der Habitus genau bildet und welche Grenzen sich hier markieren lassen, zeigt die sozialwissenschaftliche Biografieforschung deutlich. Bei meinem Diss-Thema kann ich das Konzept vielleicht ganz explizit anwenden: Für die emigrierten Frauen war der Umzug nach Amerika im Rahmen des Denkbaren. Das ist ja eigentlich ziemlich komisch. Viele von ihnen hatten nicht einmal eine vage Vorstellung von den Kontinent, geschweige denn sprachen sie Englisch. Was in diesem Fall den Habitus prägte und wie sich Grenzen formierten, ist eine höchst interessante Frage. Warum konnten die regionalen Grenzen überhaupt überschritten werden? Was brachte sie dazu? Oder waren die Grenzen, die ihre Rolle in der Paarbeziehung festlegten, noch viel stärker als die Landesgrenzen? Konnte eine Frau eher auswandern, als verlassen zurück zu bleiben? Eigentlich eine ziemlich produktive Verbindung zwischen Habitus- und Biografieforschung, Herr Bourdieu, meinen Sie nicht?

Das eigentliche Missverständnis, dem Bourdieu aufsitzt, ist aber Folgendes: In individuellen Erzählungen zeigen sich ja immer auch Elemente des „objektiven Sinns“. Also der Alltagswirklichkeit, die alle Menschen teilen und den Ereignissen, die auf die Menschen hereinbrechen – oder wir sagen einfach „Geschichte“ dazu. Unsere Lebensgeschichten haben was mit der „restlichen“ Geschichte zu tun, insofern ist es auch legitim,  geschichts- und sozialwissenschaftliche Fragen an sie zu stellen.

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Eingeordnet unter serious, student things, thesis

english as a foreign language – „at least“

My English is quite crap. Recently, I answered a few craigslist ads, trying to find a roommate at last (if anybody out there knows a place to stay in New Orleans beteween August and June, let me know!) and produced a stunning moment of language-confusion-based embarassement.

One of the ad-placers wrote something like „I don’t smoke, I drink, pets are ok…“.

I answered: „I drink (at least one ore two beers in the evening), pets are ok but I don’t bring any…“

After I sent it, I re-checked. Here is the follow-up-mail I had to send:

„D’oh – just re-read my mail – please kindly ignore my language faults. this time I did a really fun one: „at least a beer or two in the evening“ does not mean that I am a hidden alcoholic, I just mistranslated a common german phrase. What I wanted to say was that occasionally I like having a few beers. hope you can live with that :)“

To be noticed:

at least = mindestens, not less than, at the least. It is not a random-youcanuseitwhereveryouwant-filler.

I fear that my potential roomies will only write me back if they have a strange liking for german-accented, confused persons who like to have a drink once in a while, but I think I’d rather not stress that point ever again.

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Eingeordnet unter cheerio!, student things, thesis

embrace it.

I must start getting acquainted with my doctoral thesis NOW. No, this is not true, i should have started ages ago. But I didn’t – leaving Vienna for a year ist quite a big decision. The scaryness-factor doubles every minute. I leave my relationship and social network behind, and behind means that the Atlantic and parts of the Gulf of Mexico will seperate us for ten months. I’m not leaving for a few months of erasmus partying in a random European city. My destination is New Orleans. Imagining what this will be like fills my days, no wonder I’m not capable of doing much apart from this right now. Writing the occasional article for PROGRESS or doing one or two things for the Student’s Union (my political energy is now focused on getting the candidates for the doctorial program at WU Wien (re)elected) is all I manage, and this is just welcome distraction from what I should be doing – putting up my tents in the library and getting to work.

As I am through with most procastination activities I have in my repertoire, only blogging was left, so here is my new plan: I will tell my incredibly large audience about my thesis. I will blog about every single progress or set-back. I will bore the hell out of you (and me), until you (and me) embrace my thesis to the utmost. We will love and cherish it. And I will finally start doing something. Here we go:

What is my thesis about?

Austrian-American relationships are quite an exotic research topic. Many scholars wrote about the transformation of the relationship between Germany and the US, but Austria is sort of a neglected case, I think. (Maybe I am totally wrong about this, I’ll check this out in the next weeks) One of the few scholars who dedicate their work to this issue is my co-advisor Günter Bischof. He is chair of Center Austria at the University of New Orleans and a profound expert on the issue. Maybe due to his own migrational history, he is not only interested in political history or social structures, but also in individual stories and biography research. He encouraged me to choose a topic like this for my thesis: I’m writing about Austrian War Brides and their lives in the US. When I explain my subject to Austrians, it usually takes some time until I described what and why I am writing about, so in brief not so brief:

During the occupation era of allied forces in Austria between 1945 and 1955, social interaction between soliders and civilians helped forming attitudes towards entire nations. The US forces were known als benevolent occupiers, those who grew up during this period remember chocolate and chewing-gum gifts from GIs. Especially in contrast to the sovjet occupational regime (or at least in contrast to what was heard and thought of the sovjet occupational regime), the civilians in Salzburg and Upper Austria were more or less okay with having the Americans around. But the evolvement of gender roles during the occupation period is quite an interesting one: The post-war Austrian population was short of two cohorts. First of all, around 65.500 Austrian Jews were murdered in the Nazi-Regime, another 120.000 were forced into exile. Many intellectuals went to the USA and stayed there, as the Austrian government was not very keen on inviting them back or even apologizing for the atrocities Austrian authorities committed during the Nazi era. Secondly, there was a huge lack of men in post-war Austria. 240.000 Austrian Wehrmacht soldiers died, another 500.000 were prisoners of war (I need to re-check the source of this numbers). To get the dimensions of this right: According to Statistik Austria, Austria had a population of just about seven million in 1951. 740.000 men would compose around 20 percent of the whole male population. Quite a lot, isn’t it?

The Austrian nation, just like the German one, was therefore perceived as feminine. According to Petra Goedde („GIs and Germans“), this helped alleviating the tension between the allied forces and the defeated Germany – the majority of German civilians who interacted with the GIs were women. Thanks (?) to specific gender roles, women were generally thought innocent of any war crimes as their place in society was strictly defined. Women were mothers, housekeepers, daughters, not soldiers. This engendered role concept did not allow women to be wartime actors, they were victims of the male wrongdoers of society. Because of this, the interactions between female Germans and GIs were more relaxed than between German men and American Soldiers. Women were victims, not enemies. The same is true for Austria. Although there is a small difference – Austria was said to be Nazi-Germany’s first victim, so the defeat of Austria was labeled „liberation“.

Nevertheless, if a women started a relationship with an American solider, she was always accused of being a prostitute. Mainly the remaining men and the fiercest defenders of conservative sexual moral (e.g. the catholic church) complained about the immorality of those intercultural relationships. If Austrian women started relationships with American soldiers, they put their own integrity at risk. But their criticism did not stop these encounters to happen. Of course, prostitution-like relationships were also part of the post-war reality like platonic or romantic relationships. Ingrid Bauer, one of the few austrian researchers who are familiar with the topic of occupation and gender-relations, puts it this way: „In short, it was about domestic, communicative, and sexual ’services‘.“ (Bauer 2007:77), the women found the undamaged men attactive – „It was a question of ‚intact‘ men, without war injuries, who demonstrated calmness and success at the same time.“ (Bauer 2007:71), Bauer concludes.

Long story short – the approximately 70.000 GIs, who were in Austria by the end of 1945, left traces. Some had illegitimate children with austrian women, some chose Austrians as wifes. Here is, where my thesis starts: Those War Brides emigrated from their country of origin to a compleatly foreign nation – the United States of America. They left everything behind: Possessions (although most of them did not have many), friends and family. They did not know anybody in the US but their husbands. Many of them did not even know the language. Nevertheless, the packed their stuff and went away – forever. Many of them thought, they would never see their relatives again.

Although there is abundand research on the topic of war brides in the US (I am currently getting an overview on this – my newest purchase is „Entangling Alliances – Foreign War Brides and American Soldiers in the Twentieth Century“ by Susan Zeiger, I keep you posted on how I liked it), the Austrian wifes are not being covered until now. My thesis should shed some light on these women and the experiences they made during their lives. With the method of biographical interviews, I try to reconstruct their lives and the strategies they chose to make their way in their new home country.

Embrace it!

Embracing the topic should be easy enough, as those women were much braver than I was when they made the decision to leave Austria. I will be coming back after ten months, they went to stay forever. And still, I worry like hell. Will there be anybody to talk to? To hang out with? Does anybody get my sense of humor on the other side of the lake (not that I have much of it…)? Can I even communicate things the way I want? Even this short blog post makes me deeply unhappy about my very mediocre lexis and writing skills in English. Did the Austrian War Brides worry about the same things I worry about now or were their realities too different to mine? Are their any culture-specific strategies to cope with emigration? Or at least with a part time stay far, far away? Hopefully, I can adopt some of their tricks. I am looking forward to interviewing these women, I really hope that I can find enough who are willing to share their memories with me.

References:

Bauer, Ingrid; Huber, Renate: Sexual Encounters across (Former) Enemy Lines, in: Bischof, Günter; Pelinka, Anton; Herzog, Dagmar (Hg.): Sexuality in Austria, New Brunswick/London: Transaction Publishers 2007, S. 65-101

Goedde, Petra: GIs and Germans: culture, gender and foreign relations, 1945-1949, New Haven: Yale University Press 2003

Zeiger, Susan: Entangling Alliances. Foregin War Brides and American Soldiers in the Twentieth Century. New York/London: New York University Press 2010

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Eingeordnet unter genderize, serious, student things, thesis