Tagged: interview

¿En qué iba?

¿En qué iba? Ah, si, que entonces estábamos con mi familia ahí sentados en el Club Colombia, cuando de repente alguien dijo que habíamos ganado. Allá mucha gente es de nosotros. Todos nos miramos sorprendidos, porque no pudimos creer que ganamos el plebiscito. Después de toda la maquinaria… Estábamos convencidos de que ganara el Sí. Pero entonces comenzamos a mirar las noticias, y ¡efectivamente! Ganamos. Eso fue un momento muy bonito, ahí con toda la gente que dijimos que No. Pero ya cuando nos enteramos de la otra gente, que los del Sí nos echaron la culpa y todo eso, eso ya fue otra cosa. Porque nosotros no queremos la guerra, ¡no! En ningún momento los argumentos del No eran que se iba a ganar la guerra, o algo así. Aunque bueno, dicen que las FARC ya estaban muy débiles, y que en realidad no había necesidad de negociar nada. ¿Quién se pone a negociar con un grupo armado que está a punto de perder? O sea, desde el comienzo lo único que quizo Santos era el Nobel de paz. Y ahora nos dejó con este bollo de acuerdo que no era lo que nosotros queríamos y aún así nos met en esto. Yo sí me pregunto por qué la comunidad internacional no dijo nada ahí. Porque esto no era lo que queríamos nosotros. Eso también es una vulneración de nuestros derechos. Nosotros lo que queríamos—y lo que seguimos queriendo—es un acuerdo que valga la pena. Uno sin impunidad, y sin regalarle nada a nadie. Porque ahora, ¿cómo lo defendemos frente a la gente decente? Los que siempre han trabajado y que nunca se les cruzó por la mente alzarse en armas. Los que siempre cumplieron, no robaron, no mataron. A estos no se les da nada, pero a los guerrilleros esos traficando droga, secuestrando, matando, extorsionando, ahora les entregamos su sueldo mínimo sin que ni siquiera tengan que esforzarse. Todos tenemos que cumplir con las reglas. Todos tenemos que entrar en la misma competencia en el mercado laboral, entonces no podemos regalarles nada a ellos. Imagínate: el otro día leí en el periódico que ya los sacaron de la cárcel. Ni habían entrado hace tanto. Primero tienen que cumplir. Continue reading

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Torschlusspanik

The days in Bogota are counted for now, and with them my opportunities to collect more data. Friends and colleagues here and back home all ask me that one question: So, do you have all you needed? The most terrifying variation being “How many interviews do you have?” And every time someone asks me that, they send me down a spiral of doubts and worries. While I am convinced that there can never be “enough” when it comes to human interactions (to which I count formal interviews, but also participant observation, casual meetings with informants, exchange of material or immaterial things or favors, etc.), I also believe that my work here cannot and should not be translated into a certain number of interviews. In the end, their usefulness depends on their quality rather than the quantity. Yet, even though I am very happy with the quality of my interviews, I cannot but feel disappointed about their number.

There’s a name for how I feel about my time in the field. And apparently, it is a very common syndrome especially among women scholars. Maybe you have heard about impostor syndrome, that awquard feeling of being a fraud and the anxiety that people will find out. If you wanna know more about it, you can check out Chronicle Vitae. Also, the guys from StartupBros have some recommendations on how to get over it.

As for myself, I like to believe that even though I am deceptioned by the number, I am still happy about how well everything went. Knowing that I didn’t even know most of my interviewees before the trip, the depth of the interviews and the levels of trust reached in interactions do indeed surprise me. Considering furthermore, that so far all of them are willing to introduce me to other family members, and in general continue to cooperate with me, I can actually be at least a little proud of my work.

And, of course, I did not spend the whole time on doing interviews. There’s a lot more to being an academic in the field than being able to just run from informant to informant, extracting data from them like I was a cauchero and they the rubber trees. While I was here, I attended the publication of a book which includes an essay of mine. I met with colleagues and advisers to discuss my project and possible cooperations. I prepared a course I will be teaching during the summer term. I wrote a presentation I will hold at a conference in a week from now. I attended a virtual discussion with a research group I am part of. And that’s only the non-fieldwork-related part of the job. Why am I telling you this? Because this way I see there’s nothing to be ashamed of when thinking about “my number”. That’s as good as it gets; and maybe it’s time for me to forget about that romantic idea of simply being in the field and going about my stuff without any strings attached. One of the reasons I wanted to become an academic in the first place was precisely the variety of tasks combined in the world of science (apart from the obvious curiosity about other cultures, and my desire to teach). My way of dealing with impostor syndrome? Write about it, right here!

That Awkward Moment

Sometimes I am seriously doubting whether studying Anthropology actually was a good decision. Sometimes in this case means every single time I am heading for an interview. I just can’t stop feeling unqualified, I always worry whether I’ll be asking the right questions, and I’m literally praying there won’t be too many moments of awkward silence – still being an atheist, that is. Every single time, I’m sweating more than I would on an entire day at the Caribbean. While other colleagues have told me they’re embarrassed by how much they speak themselves during an interview when they transcribe the audio file, I am more often than not worried about how to keep things going.

Every time I read texts on interviewing methodology, I cringe at the part that says one should try to make the interviewee feel comfortable. How in the world am I supposed to make people feel comfortable in a situation that is not comfortable at all, not even for me who I am supposed to be in charge of it?! I am clearly no small talk genius, and apparently worse so under pressure. Not that I would get into embarrassing moments by talking about inappropriate things, or something like that. You could at least call this a talent for ice-breaking, if you want. I am more the kind of person who becomes utterly aware of her social awkwardness around people I do not know.

So how do I go about these situations? Continue reading