- Interweaving personal biography and academic work: studying infertility anong 'others' and 'at home'
- Medische Antropologie
- Volume | Issue number
- 24 | 1
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
In this article I reflect on how in the last two decades my personal biography - having been confronted with the problem of not getting pregnant when I wanted to and having been able to overcome this problem by means of IVF - and my academic biography have been interwoven. While I acknowledge and show the impact of my personal biography on my academic work (and vice versa), at the same time I contend that its impact should not be overstated. This is related to a number of factors, including the invisibility of my condition, which gave me the freedom to disclose or not disclose it; the fact that I chose not to exchange in-depth experiences with my informants; and the openness of informants to share their experiences. I argue that, based on the different positioning of myself and my informants in two studies (varying in context and temporality), a comparable physical
condition does not necessarily have to be experienced as a shared, similar or same experience or situation, either by the informants or by the anthropologist. In both study situations I considered myself rather a ‘partial insider’, even though I once was - physically speaking - a ‘full insider’. At the same time I argue that the implications of similar circumstances for other social scientists, having different histories and experiences, may be quite different. Therefore, I emphasize the importance of a full disclosure of researchers’ relevant biographical experiences, to increase both the credibility and the value of the ethnographic texts anthropologists produce.
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