Stirring Encounters

Contributed by Tegiye Birey, 2018

Keywords: Coffee stirrers, Interview, Anxiety

Ten minutes into the [field] interview, they started breaking the coffee-stirrers in pieces and piling them in different compositions on the table, keeping their eyes focused on the broken pieces. After a while, I found myself breaking the coffee-stirrers as well. We joked that we are repurposing the object to handle our shared discomfort.

Although interviews are a business-as-usual component of ethnographic research methods, touching upon my informants’ injuries, at times injuries that I share, was a challenging task. Given the life-altering interviews they had in conjunction with their experience of migration, I wonder if I can ever be equipped enough to conduct healing interviews.