Quite apart from my getting a better understanding of what ethnology actually means to an ethnologist, there were some salutary reminders about interviewing subjects, reliable or unreliable witnesses, and the possibility that conflicting reports from the same person might stem from their own expectations of what the interviewer wanted to hear, as much as from whether they were reliving a moment – or reflecting back upon something from a more recent vantage point. (As, for example, a WW1 solder reflecting back about the Christmas Day truce, on one occasion talking about exchanging gifts, and on another disapproving of the fraternization.) Gary spoke of further nuances, but this was the gist of his example.
Since I’ll be interviewing a few of my peers for my project, it was interesting to hear a professional from another discipline talking about an enormous batch of interviews made by a folksinger and transcribed over many decades, and how he, Gary, was now involved in publishing them and finding other ways to bring them to life – for example, in drama and song.
No time to write further … perhaps later!