Initially, I was thinking of firewood as an object, a fuel. I wanted to know more about the reasons why women prefer to use firewood rather than gas. I was trying to explain my research to a family that I know —because we built their firewood stove together four years ago—, so I asked if they understood the intentions of my work, and the following conversation ensued:
- Teresa (nahua woman): You do not want the tradition to be lost. You want that people who use firewood, like we do, continue to use it, right?
- Me: Well, rather, what we want is you to be the ones who decide if you want to continue to use firewood or not. Because if we tell you to do it or not…
- Teresa’s Daughter: It’s like, so that traditions are not lost, right? Is that it?
At that point I realized that I was becoming an obstacle to my own research. I had to completely change the way I was engaging with these women. To understand more about firewood, I had to distance myself from it, refrain myself from trying to talk about it, and instead, I had to get closer to it by participating in the women’s daily practices.
This video was recorded on November, 2018 during an ethnographic interview.
Emilia Ruvalcaba de la Garza, "What do you want?", contributed by Emilia Ruvalcaba de la Garza, STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 26 August 2019, accessed 5 October 2022. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/what-do-you-want