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A course about biographical approaches and methods

26th of November-1st of December 2007, Prague


What is the EFID course about?
How do we learn in the EFID course?
Who will guide the course?

What is the EFID course about?

We would like to invite you to join EFID in the search for the lives, stories, history, role models, points of view, wisdom and hopes for the future… of our women neighbours, women friends, sisters, grandmothers, mothers, daughters and granddaughters in the Europe of the past, present and future.

The EFID course is organised by the German-Czech project team, OWEN Berlin and Gender Studies Prague. The course follows up on the results of the European cooperation project EFID and the Women's Memory project. Biographical approaches and methods for intercultural youth and adult education in Europe are taught, learned, practised and discussed in the courses.

The focus is on comparisons between countries on questions such as:

What do we mean by "emancipation"?
What leads to emancipation?
How do I conduct biographical interviews and how can I learn to understand recounted stories?
What do biographies and life stories have to do with the history, society and culture of our countries?

The aim is to learn how to use these techniques in intercultural youth and adult education.


How do we learn in the EFID course?

From - with - about one another

Participatory, intercultural and dialogue-stimulating learning methods that lead to unexpected insights and discussions are fundamental to the courses. The EFID courses place the emphasis on process-oriented learning processes and group work.

The biographical interviews selected by us as well as the life experiences and life stories brought along by the course participants form the starting point of the course. The biographical texts and data are supplemented by historical and socio-cultural background information and photographs.

Real-life examples are used to practise biographical interview techniques, and ways of interpreting and dealing with the different forms of remembering are introduced and practised. The course is held in English.



Module I

Let's get started - who are we and what are we going to do here?

Module 1 starts with the participants getting to know one another.
  • - Where are my roots, where was I born, what places in my life have influenced me?
  • - What is important for my identity?
The course team will give an introduction to the contents, working methods and methodology of the course.
  • - What does the course aim to achieve?
  • - What is the course structure?
  • - What is the basis of the course?

Module II

Approaches to a concept: what does emancipation mean?

Module 2 deals with finding a shared approach to the central content topic of the course - what does emancipation mean?
  • - What do I understand and what do we understand by emancipation?
  • - What are the life paths, decisions and actions that lead to emancipation?
  • - How do we recognise and measure factors that lead to emancipation?
  • - How are my understanding of emancipation and my experience of emancipation connected?

Module III

(Hi)stories: remembering, recounting, listening, accompanying, supporting

The work of the international project Women's Memory is introduced in Module 3 along with an introduction to the basics of biography work and the methodology of narrative biographical interviewing. The interview techniques will be practised and thought about using text samples in practical exercises.
  • - What do we mean by biographical work?
  • - How do biographical events, memories, experiences and accounts differ from one another?
  • - What does active listening mean?
  • - How can we accompany and support someone in remembering and recounting events?

Module IV

Your - my - our (hi)story: respecting, interpreting, understanding

This module provides an introduction to qualitative methods used in analysing and interpreting biographical data and accounts. Various ways of working with and dealing with life history accounts will be presented and practised with the help of text extracts.
  • - What role does one's own perspective play in the interpretation of biographical accounts?
  • - What does respecting another person's story mean?
  • - What do we need in order to be able to understand a story?
  • - What is the range and where are the limits of being able to understand?

Module V

Paths to emancipation: searching, finding, opening, creating, shaping

Module 5 is about getting to know and discussing conditions that either further or restrict emancipation in different European countries. This module explores the various societal and cultural models of women, as well as structural factors that influenced the lives and actions of women in Europe in the past and influence them today.
  • - What role models and structures were and are important for our lives, and for our mothers' and grandmothers' lives?
  • - What impact did these models have on women's ideas about their lives and on their opportunities to decide and act? What impact do the models have now?
  • - What opened up life paths towards emancipation in the past and present?
  • - What role models were important for my own development? What role models are important today?

Module VI

History creates the future: yours, mine, ours

Module 6 deals with the connection between history, types of historical remembering and the role of women as actors in history.
  • - What historical events were part of our lives and the lives of our mothers' and grandmothers' generations?
  • - What memories and experiences do we associate with these events?
  • - What female roles were - and are - passed on by the way history and stories are told?
  • - What history and stories, what experiences do we want to pass on to future generations of women?

Module VII

On we go: taking it with us, passing it on, carrying it on

The course is evaluated together in the final compulsory module.
  • - Which expectations have been fulfilled and which haven't?
  • - What have the participants gained on a professional and personal level?
  • - What methodological approaches were particularly helpful for one's own work, and which were not so helpful?
  • - What opportunities do the participants see for putting their new knowledge and skills to practical use?
The compulsory part of the EFID course officially ends with the award of a participation certificate and a teaching CD Rom called "European Women in Dialogue - Learning From, About and With One Another" with material for further use in educational practice.

Module VIII

Looking for traces of the past and signs of the time: creating, showing and preserving history

During this one-day module we will tour the respective course location with a local guide. We will visit public places that are connected with the stories of women in history and explore if and how these stories and history are preserved and made visible.


Participants / Who is the course aimed at?

  • Primarily at women who are involved in political education for young people or adults.


Who will guide the course?

The EFID Team

Dr Marina Grasse, OWEN e.V., Berlin

I was born in East Berlin (GDR) in 1950. I worked as a behavioural biologist in medical basic research until 1990. After the "fall" of the Berlin Wall I was able to link my interest in peace and women's affairs with my professional life. I founded the East-West European Women's Network (OWEN) with other women in 1992 and have worked in this women's organisation since then. I was responsible for the coordination of the EU project EFID. I am particularly interested in the shaping of intercultural learning processes, in which personal biographies and memories are linked with cultural and societal developments. I have four grown-up children.

Dana Jirouš, OWEN e.V., Berlin

I was born in Cologne in 1980. I went to study in Berlin in 1999 and apart from two longer periods in Paris and St Petersburg, have been in Berlin since then. I am a graduate in political science. I started working as an intern in OWEN while I was still a student and was able to connect my main areas of interest - feminist theories and the regions of Central and Eastern Europe - with one another. Since the beginning of 2006 I have been working as a research assistant in the organisation and deal mainly with the connection between the memory of the past and the shaping of the present.

Andrea Zemskow-Züge, Berlin

I was born in Wiesbaden in 1971, grew up in southern Germany and studied East European History and Slavic Studies at the Free University Berlin. In my academic work, I am particularly interested in the many facets of the relationships between individual life paths, biographical remembering and collective forms of historical memory. I started working with OWEN via my work in the Women's Memory project, where I was able to connect my theoretical knowledge with political educational work. Since then, Marina Grasse and I have held seminars and workshops about biographies and remembering in societal processes of change in Russia, the Ukraine, Georgia and Abkhazia. I have lived between Berlin and St Petersburg for several years with my husband, who is from St Petersburg, and our daughter.

Mgr. Pavla Frýdlová, Gender Studies, Prague

I was born in Prague in 1948. I worked as a dramatic advisor, editor, journalist and guest lecturer in the Prague Film Academy until 1994. I co-founded Prague Gender Studies with women from different areas and environments at the beginning of the 1990's. I began to work more intensively with women's biographies and took over the international coordination of the Women's Memory project in 1996. I am interested in making women's life stories available to as wide an audience as possible. I have used the comprehensive interview material in several publications, radio series and documentary films. The intercultural dimensions in the EFID project's biographical seminars are of particular interest to me. I live with my family (husband and grown-up son) in/between several cultures.

Katerina Jonášová, M.A., Gender Studies, Prague

I was born in Kladno in 1975 and am a graduate in Mass Communications from the Charles University in Prague. My thesis was about the first Czech feminist magazine, "Ženský obzor". My work with Gender Studies Prague began with the Women's Memory project, where I am especially interested in discovering concrete stories through the varied lives of women. I am enthusiastic about the lively narration that improves one's knowledge of history from school and leads to intercultural dialogues and a continuous correction of one's own strategies for life, which are provided by Women's Memory and the follow-up projects such as EFID. My partner and I take turns at looking after our two small children.

Dana Musilová, PhD, Gender Studies, Prague

I was born in Pelhrimov in 1958. I studied history at the Charles University in Prague. Since 1981 I have worked the whole time as an historian. At the moment, I teach 20th century history at the university in Hradec Kralove. My special area is women's history - for the past few years, I have been dealing with the work of women in the Czechoslovakian Parliament (1918 - 1939). I have been involved with biographical studies for more than ten years and have worked in the Women's Memory project since 1998. Biographical projects are not just a definite professional enrichment for me, but also allow me to meet many women and men, whom I would not otherwise have met. I have one grown-up daughter.



Seminar rooms will be announced


Please click > here < to access the application form.
The application deadline is November 1st, 2007. The course fee is 600,- EUR. Neither transfers nor hotel accommodations are included in the course fee. Details of travel and accommodation will be sent with booking confirmations and are responsibilities of the delegates.


This course is part of the Comenius-Grundtvig Training Database. Under the reference number CZ-2007-013-001 you can access the website at: In case you are:
  • Teacher or otherwise employed in adult education and the extracurricular sector
  • Non-German citizen
  • From one of the member states of the European Union or Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey
you are entitled to apply for a Grundtvig 3 grant by the European Union for this course. Please refer to the National Agency of your country, whose contact you shall find on this website:
Please note that the application for a Grundtvig 3 grant should be made 3-6 months before the start of the course.


Home | Interviews | Discussion | Contact

Through you can buy:

:: The new books of Pavla Frýdlová based on the oral history methodology: Ženy v bílém - Women in White looks into the prestige life of women medical doctors.

:: Ženy odjinud - Women from elsewhere looks into the opinions and strategies of female foreigners living in the Czech Republic
Example of interview
HERE you can find transcribtion of one interview that was taken in the first period of the interviews collection.
Showcases of the additional materials
Here you can find examples of protocol, biogramme, resumé and list of entries (index for the archives).

Gender Studies, o.p.s.
Gorazdova 20
120 00 Praha 2
tel: 224 913 350, 777 910 941, 777910 933
tel./fax: 224 915 666
Big thanks to women's weekly VLASTA for usage of their photo archive (1950-1960).
© gender studies o.p.s. 2003