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The ‘Personal and Public Lives’ conference took place between 7th and 9th September 2010 at the University of Huddersfield. Carrie writes about her experience at this event. I attended the personal and public lives conference to hear more about research being conducted in the UK and internationally from ‘person centred’ perspectives and to speak about the MAF’s ongoing work on affective flows and intergenerational transmission. The topics covered at this interdisciplinary and international conference were incredibly broad and drew from a wide theoretical and practical knowledge base. Highlights for me included talks by Ann Hodson, Gayle Letherby and plenaries by Professor Jenny Hockey and Professor Eleanor Krassen Covan. Topics covered in these talks spanned a range of personal and public contexts. Issues discussed included social workers’ experiences of child protection and pre-birth assessment; researchers’ auto/biographical reflections on studying pregnancy and early motherhood; and insights into the study of death, dying, bereavement and disposal. At the same time, the conference provided a space for researchers to consider the multiple common threads running through our theoretical perspectives and research methodologies e.g. social relationships, divisions and inequalities, epistemologies and practices of care, life course issues, and a concern for affective and emotional dimensions of personal and public lives. I particularly liked the way the sessions and plenaries were academically engaging and yet intimate enough to draw participants into the discussions in profoundly affective, emotional and personal ways. I was moved many times by the speakers' experiences and accounts and I've been encouraged to re-examine aspects of my own personal biography and the complex ways it interconnects with and energises my particular academic and research experiences. Concepts that resonated with the MAF project during the conference included a focus on ‘care sharing’ (rather than care giving) highlighting the inherent interdependencies and negotiations of caring relationships and their potential for sustaining and transforming subjectivity and identity. The importance of linking care at different stages of the life course was also seen as an important move for developing interdisciplinary research, practice and policy agendas. I thoroughly enjoyed attending the conference and especially the opportunity it provided to meet with other early career researchers who were passionate about exploring the interrelationships between personal and public relationships, roles and responsibilities in contemporary contexts. The icing on the cake was the wonderful Canalside East converted mill building which provided a stunning context for the event as well as prompting reflections on the dramatic shifts in personal and public lives in this particular corner of the world.
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