Revealing and Concealing: Interpersonal Dynamics and the Negotiation of Identity in the Interview


  • Katherine Pratt Ewing


With questions of identity negotiation and power now central in anthropol-ogy, anthropologists must become more attentive to negotiations in the interview process itself. This article draws together insights from sociolinguistics, psychoanalysis, and literary criticism to identify procedures for recognizing multiple layers of signifi-cance in interview responses. Passages from two well-known ethnographies, Dorinne Kondo's Crafting Selves (1990) and Sidney Mintz's Worker in the Cane (1974), are reinterpreted to demonstrate how attending to transference and countertransference, allusion and intertextuality, and linguistic phenomena such as ambiguity and pronom-inal shifts can enhance the anthropologist's awareness of the process of identity negotiation in the field and yield richer ethnographic writing that goes beyond the use of abstracted cultural patterns as an explanatory device to a demonstration of how cultural practices are enacted with and through the ethnographer. [interviewing, ethnography, identity, transference, sociolinguistics, intertextuality]