The article introduces the possibilities of using the biographical method for researching the processes of migration on the basis of analysing the materials of the research project Maja ('Home/House'). Migration, the movement of people from one location to another, farther or nearer, brings along the change of home. While one's home is the symbol of stability, migration can be described as being the opposite of stability. Oral history researchers from the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Latvia have continuously worked on the Maja project since its launch in 1995. They have repeatedly interviewed the residents of an apartment house in Riga and consulted their personal documents. The information collected in the course of the study deals with the period from the year 1936 (when the house was built) to the present day. The study approaches the life stories of the inhabitants as subjective social reconstructions of the past, which are interpreted in the context of the observed residential house and recent history of Latvia. The dynamics of historical conflicts and social processes that took place in the society can be traced in the history of the house. Upon the analogy of this house, migration processes can be identified and viewed in close-up. On the one hand, the house is characterised in this study as an actual property, material value and financial resource, and an important factor for securing material well-being. On the other hand, however, the regaining of and return to the house is seen as something that binds together the disrupted pieces of life and reemerges as the symbol of safety, stability, and the continuity of generations. The house is a spiritual value, an epitome of the past happiness, close people, and memories.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.