BIROn - Birkbeck Institutional Research Online

    The (national) family must be defended: unpacking the racializing power of the hegemonic biography

    Koenig, Alexandra (2021) The (national) family must be defended: unpacking the racializing power of the hegemonic biography. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

    PhD_AKOE_Final_library.pdf - Full Version

    Download (1MB) | Preview


    This thesis examines the intersection of migration, family and law in Austria to argue that this arena governs populations through the production of a racializing hegemonic biography. I conceptualize the hegemonic biography as racializing knowledge that circulates generic plots and figures which orientate lives in defense of the national family. I regard this as a particularly seductive technology of power for the enforcement of law, which engenders significant societal effects. I follow the hegemonic biography around; in High Court cases arbitrating the Right to Private and Family Life, media discourse, and in scholarly knowledge production about family reunification and the domain of autobiographical literature. I read this material together to show how the plots and figures are authored across a range of arenas, spanning multiple authors. Ultimately, the thesis exposes how the hegemony of plots and figures is anything but self-evident and requires their repeated authoring. The hegemonic biography’s authorship is complex, comprising competing strategic investments into different figures and plots, as well as numerous ways in which the hegemonic biography is resisted. Building on critical race scholarship and feminist literary theory, I show that the hegemonic biography produces racializing knowledge not only because it authors the lives of Europe’s others as obliterable figures in need of “good” orientation towards whiteness. Moreover, the analysis unpacks how the hegemonic biography maintains investment in whiteness, notably in authoring figures of whiteness such as the national family and its related national family home as an exclusive white possession, which must be defended. Based on my empirical findings, I show how society is being articulated through the plot of a “family in crisis”, thus orientating lives around hierarchical relations of investment, inheritance and debt towards the national family home. It is against this background that I argue that Foucault’s (2004) formula “Society Must Be Defended” is more accurately read as “Family Must Be Defended”.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2021 12:26
    Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 17:59


    Activity Overview

    Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.

    Archive Staff Only (login required)

    Edit/View Item Edit/View Item