A Sunday of Notes and Reflection
Sunday, Time to take a Deep Breath
Today Sunday is a day of at least some relaxation and record keeping. One thing about field work is that it can be mentally and cognitive draining, especially with a short project such as ours where we try to fit much into a brief period of time. I will be posting photos and videos of the dances and the mass we witnessed from Thursday to Saturday, but first some thoughts on our research process. I'm starting to pick up on more and more of the Spanish language. Interestingly, the language I know that my mind and mouth want to respond with is Esperanto. For those of you who are not familiar with Esperanto, it is a constructed language, meant to avoid the cultural assumptions of a language such as English used in cross-cultural and national communication. For more information, check out lernu . I have not used the language for several years, so I do find it curious that this is the connection my mind is making. It is likely due to similarities in vocabulary.
Kathy with our ride, a Renault Fluence which is bringing us around easily and safely. It also seems to be quite noticed in Parita by now, they know it is the car of those Americans wanting to talk to everyone. We mostly park outside the house of Mr. Bernal, the president of the organizing committee, Patronado, of Corpus Christi, so we get the pleasure of saying hello to his family who is often hanging out on the porch. Mr. Bernal himself has been incredibly busy with the festival but we have talked with him several times. A more formal interview may be scheduled by Marino at a later point so that we do not interfere with his duties during the celebration. As you can see in the background, the houses in the historical district of Parita are elevated, with a connecting combined porch and walkway between them. There is a lot of life going on there. Children play, the adults hang out and talk. Especially when people return from work in the late afternoon will you see men, and some women, relaxing in a chair tilted towards the wall.
Note taking and Observations
The amount of information and impressions can be overwhelming, so we take copious amounts of video, photos, and notes to aide. We aim for entering and transcribing notes regularly - we are not caught up but are not neglecting it either. While it is hard after a long day of observation and interviews to enter notes, it is important to get as much down as possible while it is still fresh. To get from interviews and observations to data that can be analyzed, we need as full and comprehensive notes and transcripts as possible.
Marino and Kathy with Mr. Giron, a high school principal who grew up in Parita, was fascinated by the dances of Corpus Christi, and wrote his thesis on the Devil dances.
The last days have been busy with often two three-hour interviews and several hours of observations of dances and music. We are getting incredibly rich data and learning a lot about Parita, Corpus Christi, and tourism.
In the amazing house of Mr. Giron we got to see not only several devil masks but also an anvil that was used to crush several things including corn kernels often, two people would collaborate, taking turns pounding.
The Interview Process
We conduct mostly semi-structured interviews: it means that we developed interview questions before starting the research, but that we do not follow the script fully. Questions are interjected based upon what we have learned from previous interviews or observations, and questions are left out that have turned out not to be pertinent. The interviews are recorded so that we can go back for details that were not included in initial notes. It is difficult to maintain a conversation and take rich notes, so hurrah for modern technology. Several times, our interviews have been briefly interrupted by rain hammering down on the roof so that it is difficult to hear what each person is saying, by noisy trucks when interviewing outside on the porch, or by the children or business demands of our participants. That is all part of field work: life is happening around us and we have to go along with it. It is not a disturbance but a glimpse into the life of people. We always ask people whether we are allowed to use their photos, and most agree. A couple of times, our participants have asked to take a photo with us and asked whether they can share on social media and elsewhere, to document we were here. We gladly give permission and are happy our participants find our visit positive and want to use it themselves.
Photo session with Mr. Lopez after the interview. He told us how the business based on his his crafts have allowed him to raise a family and send his children to college. They all know the craft of the devil masks and his sons- and daughters- in law also contribute pieces of crafts to the business We ordered masks and bought hats created by his daughter-in-law.
Mr. Dario Lopez, master craftsman of the Devil Masks, during our interview. His grandchildren were curious and very charming. During out interview, he had to tend to a couple of pieces of work.