Accepted Paper:

"You're the only one I will tell it to …" - researcher in a difficult situation: questions about fieldwork methodology   


Agnieszka Poźniak (Uniwersytet Jagiellonski / Jagiellonian University)

Paper short abstract:

I would like to concentrate on what kind of pragmatic and ethical problems one could face trying to enter a closed and isolated society, attempting to define what the dialogue process depends on, how it's created as a interview process, how to get the trust and the empathy during the interview.

Paper long abstract:

I want to base my paper on my investigations to talk about problems which appear during fieldwork. My doctoral thesis will explore the ways in which Catholic sisters perceive their place and the role of their communities in the contemporary Poland. Implementation of this project includes conducting the interviews, therefore my source are individual experiences and memories with all the consequences that follow. I don't want to find an objective truth. Rather, what interests me is an analysis of a subjective picture of religious communities and the role that is played by them in modern society.

The tool I use to assemble materials are narrative interviews, in other words - a kind of conversation. In my paper I wanted to share some reflections and observations about a specific character of my source, ethical and methodological problems, which a person wanting to investigate such a hermetic and difficult environment like monastic life, encounters. Interview is a special situation during which one meets humans' "thought, dreams, ideas, norms, fears and hopes" only because one permits people to talk. Therefore one should realize what kind of role the researcher plays in these circumstances, and also be aware of the factors which influence the investigation process, like: expectations of the interlocutor, personality, social positions and provenance of the dialogue partners, even the sex of the researcher. It will be the aim of my paper to share an experience and talk about mistakes, as well as what I'm concerned to be my investigative successes.

Panel IW04
Ethically sensitive researches in anthropology