Short Interviews – Taís González on Relationality

Here we present a series of short interviews with some of those involved in the project during which we discuss their perspectives on the relational approach that is at the core of the project. We talk about how it has influenced, influences and/or will influence their work. With these interviews, we investigate whether relationality might allow us to cross academic barriers and even the frontier between research (work) and the daily and personal lives of those who start to think from this perspective.

23/10/2020
Taís González is finishing her master’s degree in Social-Ecological Resilience for Sustainable Development at the Stockholm Resilience Center. She conducted her traineeship within the FoRel project between May and August 2019, when she travelled to Inhaca island to begin fieldwork in Mozambique.

1- O que mais te marcou no seu trabalho de campo? / What impressed you most about your fieldwork?
O contato com as pessoas é algo que sempre me inspira. Acredito que ter sido recebi na Ilha da Inhaca com tanto carinho e ter podido interegir e aprender com os habitantes daquele lugar foi o que mais me marcou no meu trabalho de campo. Todos foram tão receptivos, curiosos e participativos que o meu trabalho, no campo, tornou-se mais fácil.

I believe that connecting with people is something that always inspires me. I think that being welcome on Inhaca island with such affection, being able to interact and learn from its inhabitants was what most impressed me during fieldwork. Everyone was so receptive, curious and wanted to participate in the project, which resulted into my work in the field becoming easier.

2- O que foi um fator surpresa no campo? / What was a surprise factor in the field?
Houveram muitos elementos surpresas, com toda a certeza…

There were many surprises, for sure…

2.1- O que você esperava encontrar e não encontrou? / What did you expect to find and did not find?
Mas seu eu tivesse que escolher algo que eu não esperava encontrar foi resistência da comunidade e das autoridades locais em receber e projeto abraçar o projeto. 

But if I had to choose something that I did expect to face, but did not happen, it would be the resistance from the community and local authorities to receive and embrace the project.

2.2- O que não esperava encontrar, mas encontrou? / What did you not expect to find but found?
Duas coisas aconteceram comigo que servem de lição de “trabalho de campo”, para todo o sempre na minha vida agora. Primeiro, depois de uma semana em Moçambique e segundo dia na Ilha eu quebro o meu celular. Não consegui utilizar o touch-screen o resto da viagem. Eu tinha que abastecer as reder sociais do projeto e além do mais, o WhatsApp é a forma mais rápida de comunicação – eu tinha a versão online conectada com essas mídias e o que eu fiz foi deixar o meu celular carregado o tempo todo para que ele não desligasse. E eu tive que “alugar” um celular analógico de um local. Aprendi que eu devo mesmo deixar tudo conectado e que o ideal é levar um celular antigo para emergências!
Segundo, eu fiquei doente na Ilha, levei uma picada e passei uns 3-4 dias com febres e muito cansada. Eu não tinha levado muitas medicações de casa e o atendimento no hospital local foi exelente, mas dependendo de onde o trabalho de campo se desenvolver é fundamental levar medicamentos que você esteja acostumado e um kit primeiro-socorro!

Two things happened to me that will serve me as “fieldwork” lessons forever and ever in my life now. First, after a week in Mozambique and the second day on the Island, I broke my cell phone. I was unable to use the touch-screen for the rest of the trip. This was a problem particularly because I had to feed the project’s social networks; moreover, WhatsApp is the fastest form of communication in the field and to keep me in touch with the team back in Stockholm and my family and friends – I had the online version connected to my laptop and this is what saved me! I had to leave my phone charging all the time, and I “rented” an analogue cell phone from someone in the community. I learned that I really should leave everything synced (cell and laptop) and that the ideal is to always have an old cell phone for emergencies!
Second, I got sick and spent about 3-4 days with fevers, feeling really tired. I had not taken many medications with me, but the care at the local hospital was excellent. Still, depending on where the fieldwork is taking place, it is essential to have medications you are used to and a first aid kit!

3- O que você achou de diferente em realizar um trabalho de campo com uma perspectiva relacional? / What did you think was different about doing fieldwork with a relational perspective?
A princípio foi confuso, pela minha tendência de pensar nas entidades primeiro do que as relações – eu vejo como o ego e o eu batalhando para estar neste local de destaque e a partir do eu outras formas aparecem, como as formas de relacionamento. Pensar que o local, o mar, o barco, as ferramentas de pesca ou a terra, as ferramentas de agricultura, os animais essas relações constitúem os participantes da pesquisa. E essa, é uma maneira totalmente diferente de pensar, sentir e perceber a realidade – também o trabalho de campo e se perceber no trabalho de campo.

At first, it was confusing, due to my tendency to think of entities more than relationships – I see how the ego and the self struggle to be in a prominent place and departing from the self, other forms appear, such as the relationship forms. Thinking that the place, the sea, the boat, the fishing tools or the land, the agricultural tools, the animals, these relations constitute the participants of the research. And this is a totally different way of thinking, feeling and perceiving reality – also fieldwork – and perceiving yourself in fieldwork.

4- Quais as suas reflexões até agora, e você gostaria de acrescentar algo mais? / What are your thoughts so far, would you like to add something?
Eu percebi que a pesquisa dentro da perspectiva relacional me tirou do foco e da escurião da objetividade da academia tradicional. Revelou que sou parte da pesquisa e que a pesquisa se faz parte de mim também, me transformou de certa maneira. O mesmo eu acredito que ocorreu com todos aqueles que me relacionei em Inhaca e Maputo – nos fundimos em determinado ponto e isso traz tantas oportunidade de aprendizado. Pensar que essas relacões me constitúem faz com que eu abrace as incertezas e as trocas fiquem mais leves, mais fluídas e que eu entende que estamos todos juntos nesse desdobrar como uma mandala com suas cores, que se desdobram e formam novos desenhos, com novas cores – são novas oportunidades e novas estampas que estão continuamente se formando.

I realized that research from a relational perspective took me out of the focus and darkness of the objectivity of traditional academia. It revealed that I am part of the research and it is part of me too, it has transformed me in some way. I believe the same thing happened to all those I related to in Inhaca and Maputo – we merged at a certain point, and this brings so many learning opportunities. Thinking that these relationships constitute me makes me embrace uncertainties and exchanges become lighter, more fluid and I understand that we are all together in this unfolding like a mandala with its colours, which unfold and form new designs, with new colours – there are new opportunities and new patterns that are continuously forming.

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