Object-Interviews: Folding, Unfolding, and Refolding Perceptions of Objects

Susan Naomi Nordstrom

Abstract


This article describes the object-interview as a Deleuzian space in which subjects and objects, living and nonliving, entangle together. I developed the object-interview to understand the connections that 11 Midwestern family history genealogists made between objects (e.g., documents, photographs, and other artifacts) and their ancestors. The object-interview suggests an alternative way to think and do qualitative interviews informed by poststructural theories. The method draws on French philosopher Deleuze’s concepts of the fold, events, and a life, as well as conventional qualitative interview literature. Deleuze’s concepts offer a way to rethink objects and subjects as fibrous, connective, and folding entities in qualitative interviews. Such a rethinking offers an alternative to subject-centered conventional qualitative interviews in which subjects are teased apart from objects and subjects primarily produce knowledge. The object-interview, then, is a Deleuzian space in which the supposed distinctions between subjects and objects, as well as other binary divisions, become indistinct, or entangled, as both subjects and objects produce knowledge. That space enabled me to create the concept ensemble of life—a constantly shifting group of objects associated with a person’s life. In this article, I describe the theoretical entanglement of the object-interview, the object-interview itself, the data it produced in my dissertation study, and the significance of the method to the field of qualitative research methods.

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