Accepted Paper:

The room was very hot and stuffy… dwellings in the folkloristic fieldwork diaries of the 1950ies  


Liina Saarlo (Estonian Literary Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The paper will concentrate on details of interiors and exteriors of dwellings characterized by folklorists in field diaries in the 1950ies. What kind of ideological and aesthetical reasons were behind the appraising aspects? How did the judgements affect the folklorist-informant relationships?

Paper long abstract:

In Estonian folkloristics, the 1950ies there climacteric in the research policy. Rapid changes took place in the subjects, forms and methods of the folkloristic fieldwork. Life-style of informants changed in these years as well: in rural areas, there was a total transition from single farms to collective farming and, in response to the latter, massive urbanisation among youth.

Still, folkloristic fieldwork in countryside continued increasingly these years. Besides professional folklorists, numerous students of Estonian philology took part in fieldtrips. As a complementary to written and sound recorded interviews, almost all fieldworkers wrote fieldwork diaries, which documented biographical data about informants, economic-statistical and cultural-administrative data about collective farms etc. Ethnographic or informal notes about everyday life of informants were quite infrequent and heterogeneous.

The paper will outline main types of dwelling characterized in the fieldwork diaries - dwellings of informants and lodgings of folklorists during fieldwork; in addition to administrative buildings of collective farms, schools, village centres etc. Close attention will be payed on details of interiors or exteriors described; which of them were considered positively, which negatively? The paper will try to answer the fundamental question: what kind of ideological and aesthetical reasons were behind the appraising aspects of described dwellings, and even more remarkably, behind unwritten. How did that kind of domestic conflicts or, vice versa, positive judgements affected the folklorist-informant relationships in the course of the interviews?

Panel Arch03
Dwelling in the cultural archives II: policies and archive practices