update from the field

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update from the field

Post by Claudia on Wed Apr 06, 2011 12:04 pm

Hi there...

I want to share some news with everyone and also get some advise..

I had a very productive weekend. I had a translator here and talked to a lot of different people (Imams, streetleaders, local NGOs, international Organizations, Basaris, one guy from the mayor's office, etc.). I thought through talking to a lot of different and involved people I could get an over all picture of the situation here. But it seems that every time I start a new interview I'm entering a whole new universe.. Opinions and experiences differ so much whether I speak to someone in one area of the town or to someone living on the other side or in an other position.

I also realised that sometimes a translator who translates my sentence into the other language is not enough. I feel like I need a translator who can translate the culture.. things are so different. I still do absolutely not understand their society. How it works. Who is doing what, etc. The state is definitely not in a strong position here. People even told me they think they would be better off without a state at all and my housemate who is Kyrgyz told me that the people are living on one planet and the government on an other...

Has anyone similar experiences? How do you deal with it?

I thought now it might be wise to talk to people first who can explain me the society and culture first. For example there is one person from an NGO who is local but studied in Europe. He told me that he could try and explain his culture a bit. Now he only needs to have the time for it. Also I thought about talking more to internationals who work here for a while and maybe some professors. But how much can I use their oppinions as source and evidence? Because they are not a part of the system neither.

An other interesting question I used to ask, also for my safety, is about the likelyhood of violence. The answeres differed from "no there is deffinitely and a hundred percent nothing gonna happen any more" to "oh I would be surprised if it does not happen again in the next couple of weeks".

So far I think crossing the street is most dangerous. Smile

xx

Claudia

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Re: update from the field

Post by Broccoli on Fri Apr 08, 2011 11:32 am

Claudia wrote:I thought through talking to a lot of different and involved people I could get an over all picture of the situation here. But it seems that every time I start a new interview I'm entering a whole new universe.. Opinions and experiences differ so much whether I speak to someone in one area of the town or to someone living on the other side or in an other position.

What I would suggest is that you talk to people about concrete events, and then see how people talk AROUND those events through their opinions, experiences, observations, and the meaning that they attach to those events. That would be a way for you to reconcile the fact that "opinions and experiences differ so much."

Your quest should not be to find some sort of widespread consensus on a "universal truth"--or even of a "common truth"--in that society. That does not exist. Individuals will have differing opinions and experiences of situations and events. What you would want to do with that is to describe the variety of ways that people think about these phenomena, without seeking to "reduce" or to "simplify" it down to one common story.

Once you talk to enough people, you MIGHT find that despite the differences in what they say, there are also "emerging themes" evident in the data relating to the larger topic of your research (or more precisely, relating to your research puzzle). Of course, it often happens that you discover through talking with many people that your original puzzle needs to be modified or even completely changed, based on the "emerging themes" that you discover and also based on your direct observations and experience in that setting. These "emerging themes" would constitute the possible commonality in an otherwise very diverse reality. They could appear in the form of "cultural images" or "explanations" commonly invoked by many of the people you speak to when you talk about a particular issue; or patterns in the way that people think of cause and effect with regard to specific aspects of your larger topic.

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