Author:Madalina Florescu (CEBRAP)
Paper long abstract:
It is generally assumed that no matter how unusual and transformative, the interviewer has more contextual knowledge than the interviewee and that the role of the ethnographer invariably coincides with the former, thus remaining somehow 'outside' the interview. It is assumed that questions do not yield the power of ritual and that an interview will not transgress the limits of a mundane setting; if transformative at all, an interview can be so only at a personal level. But what happens when the interview encompasses not only individuals but institutions as well? Or when the interview becomes a ritual for the unmaking and re-making of context the ethnographer cannot control? The purpose of this paper is to address the epistemological assumptions underpinning expectations that 'the interview' is a technique of knowledge production that is detachable from and transferable across cultural contexts by looking at what happens to the ethnographer`s questions as they travel from their context of production to their context of reception and back via 'the discipline of anthropology'. In sum, this paper examines the epistemological challenges posed by “the interview” as a transferable technique of knowledge production.
The interview: form, translation and transformation