Narratives from Christiania

  • Christensen, Eva, (Project participant)

    Project: Research


    Narratives from Christiania
    Project: Ph.d.-project about narratives from Christiania, the free city within Copenhagen ( The project investigates how christiania-residents constructs and uses ‘local versions of the place' in negotiating Christiania's past, present and future. The project draws on conversational analysis, discursive psychology and ethnographic methods.
    Data: The overall data corpus was collected during a residential stay in Christiania year 2004 - 2005, the first year after political decisions were made about officially ‘normalizing' the place. The corpus consists of various sorts of data: Audio and video recordings of focus-group-interviews, narrative autobiografical interviews, press-conferences, tourist guiding tours and meetings in activism-groups, etnografic field observations and written as well as visual material.
    The central data in my analysis though, is focus-group-interviews. During a periode of two months, a serie of three focus-group-interviews with the same group of participants were collected. From the three interviews, two three-hours-interviews were selected, transcribed and analyzed.
    Technical self-management: Christiania is build on an old military area, and so an important activity since its beginning in 1971 has been to transform the place from miilitary area to a housing community area. This work has more or less been organized by what Christiania terms ‘technical self-management' (teknisk selvforvaltning, - the practice of locally organizing and carryinig out renovational and constructional work in a low-budget-way and without help from the danish society, and a significant organizational feature of Christiania.
    The focus-group-participants are seven men who have all been engaged in this work, and the rise and fall of Christiania's technical self-management is what the group talk about during the three interviews. However, current problems and themes caused by inner and outer conflicts are also discussed, as are possible solutions, plans and visions for overcoming current political challenges. Thus, the groups' technical endeavours and ideologies are discoursively established in relations to both past, present and future, and within a complex system of local agendas and postitions. The data thus is very rich, and provides various opportunities to study the discoursive establishment and negotiations of a moral, social and historical space and attempts to handle political changes.
    Narrative activity in the two interviews: The two interviews are very different. Both are accomplished through a combination of narrative and accounting practices. But where the first interview is carried out primarily through narrative activity, the second primarily takes the overall form of a discussion.
    In the first interview, each member one by one delivers a rather elaborated narrative selfpresentation, which is then further discussed and evaluated within the group (especially the codas are illustrative of the social work done to establish shared meanings and interpretations of the place, but I won't go into that here.)
    In the second interview, discussions and arguments - not narrative - are the primary activities, and narratives occur in less stereotypical forms (as agendas, plans, scenarios). The narratives here are organized differently and they have different communicative functions from the first interview (they are fare more embedded in argumentative structures and serves as ressources to try out possible futures).
    Analytical aims: At the moment I am looking at different things:
    1. I am looking at non-stereotypical narratives, trying to figure out if its possible or not to talk about certain types of them.
    2. I am looking at various non-narrative (mostly meta-linguistic) interactional moves which plays a major part in establishing shared versions of the past.
    3. I am looking at identity and category-constructional work (positioning).
    Effective start/end date11/08/2010 → …


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