chapter  2
12 Pages

Family Work Profiles

The family work profiles which follow are based not only on information derived from accounts given by individual members of each family from their recollections of events of everyday life and autobiographical information from some (not all) members of each family. They are also based on information derived from a variety of documentary materials and archives held by the local government office (grafio kinotitas) in the two villages, as well as from tales told by the other co-villagers (including the president, secretary and priest of each village) and by people who lived in nearby villages. The stories that I was told about each family were not all the same but were varied, with everyone trying to present certain things in a favourable light and at the same time to conceal others. Also, as Hammersely and Atkinson (1990: 130) maintain, ‘authors have a sense of audience that will lead them to put particular glosses on their accounts’. In addition, one has to take into account the blurred line between memory and imagination in storytelling. According to Barclay and DeCook (1988: 92) autobiographical recollections ‘are not necessarily accurate, nor should they be; they are, however, mostly congruent with one’s self-knowledge, life themes, or sense of self ’. To quote Rushdie (1980: 253),

Similarly, my own preoccupations are bound to have influenced the results in one way or another. For example, although taking life histories was left until late in the fieldwork period when I was no longer suspected of being a ‘spy’ or a tax collector, the selection of a handful of families as typical or extreme cases rather than others and the presentation of material concerning these families highlighting certain issues rather than others, and the exclusion of much that seemed to be trivial and inclusion of much that seemed to be important all presuppose some bias on the researcher’s part.