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JOUR FIXE with Anna Durnová

‘Lost in Translation’: Back and Forth between Fieldwork and Interpretation

Researchers, sometimes, do not like to admit that there are moments during their fieldwork in that they are simply ‘lost in translation’. What has been written or said? What the heck lies behind all those objects? Moreover, once we accept the postmodern condition that we are surrounded by multiple realities such difficulties become inevitable. Manifold approaches in social science give therefore a key role to meanings and propose to gather them in what label as ‘fieldwork’. By highlighting the concept of ‘discourse’, these approaches include a careful analysis of communication and text from that fieldwork.

In her talk Durnová will discuss various anecdotes from her own research and suggest a way to deal with this uneasiness. She will first present the nature of interpretive practice in general and then focus, by the figure of ‘Sprachmodus’, on the transgression of the experience during the fieldwork towards the analytical category of a meaning. She will point, in particular, to the role emotional experiences have in both fieldwork and interpretation.


Anna Durnová is a political scientist and a language theorist by training. She researches the role of emotions and language in policy process using examples form current policies in health care. In October 2012, she has started her project ‘Negotiating Truth: Semmelweis, Discourse on Hand Hygiene and the Politics of Emotions’ in the Hertha Firnberg Programme. She is a researcher at the Life-Science Governance Research Platform and lecturer in Public Policy at the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna. Between 2009 and 2010 she was a lecturer and researcher at the University of Lyon. She has been a visiting research fellow at the Universities of Auckland (2009), Essex (2012), Paris (2007), and Prague (2009). She is an editor of Austrian Journal for Political Science (ÖZP) and Book Review Editor of Critical Policy Studies. Beyond her academic activities, she is an external collaborator of Czech daily press Hospodá?ské Noviny. A recent publication is ‘Governing Through Intimacy: Explaining Care Policies Through “Sharing A Meaning”’, Critical Social Policy (2013).
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JOUR FIXE with Anna Durnová
May 24, 2013, 18:00h
Art & Science Studio