Accepted Paper:

Men of their words: making sense of men's corporeal practices through interviews  


Triinu Mets (NomadIT)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on fieldwork in the medieval military re-enactment scene in Latvia, this paper explores the ways in which the interview can become the means for a woman anthropologist to access the corporeal experiences of her male research subjects.

Paper long abstract:

A multitude of cross-gender ethnographic research in anthropology has long since subdued qualms about the possibility of understanding - and fairly representing - the gendered Other. There exists, however, an issue that seldom gets raised in this context - the fact that the material level of experience of certain practices remains forever unattainable for an ethnographer studying the opposite sex. In an environment where masculinity plays a central role, only a male ethnographer can move beyond merely observing the research subjects and actually participating, as has been so impressively shown by Loic Waqcuant in his Body and Soul (2004). For a female anthropologist to create an intersubjective understanding of her male informants, other possibilities for understanding corporeal experiences have to be explored.

The re-enactment of medieval warfare in Latvia is as much a men-only microcosm as Wacquant's Chicago boxing gym. Even though my presence as an anthropologist is well accepted, the rules that ban other women from participating in tournaments and battles also apply to to me. In the paper, I will be looking at ways in which bodily experiences get reiterated in interviews, making the interview a space of re-enactment itself, where the ethnographer and the informant provoke each other's cognitive and bodily knowledge while working at finding words that would give justice - and meaning - to the "manly pursuits".

Panel P10
Corporealities, cognition and the interview