University of Oulu

Johanna Hiitola (2021) Studying Intimacies that Matter: Affective Assemblages in Research Interviews with Forced Migrants, NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 29:3, 178-189,

Studying intimacies that matter : affective assemblages in research interviews with forced migrants

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Author: Hiitola, Johanna1
Organizations: 1Gender Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-26


This article explores methodological challenges in studying intimacies through analysing affective assemblages in research interviews. The participants in this study are forced migrants trying to reunite with their transnational families. Building on scholarship where affect is considered precognitive, meaning that it happens prior to emotions, this article approaches affective knowledge through methodological exploration. The analysis explores two research encounters from a data set which include interviews with 55 forced migrants in Finland, some of which were done together with a research assistant working as a translator. In addition, data include the researcher’s notes on re-listening to six interviews. The research question is how affect influences research interview situations and what effects these affective assemblages have on all involved. Additionally, the interest is in what these assemblages reveal about empathy and difference. The results show that intimate relations may manifest through a shared, intense affective assemblage where the borders of the researcher and participant become blurred. Difficult experiences of losses and injustices in the realm of intimacies may also cause affective dissonance. In these research encounters, difference between the researcher(s) and the participant(s) is left unsolved. The unresolved difference may reveal power relations between the researcher and participant.

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Series: NORA. Nordic journal of feminist and gender research
ISSN: 0803-8740
ISSN-E: 1502-394X
ISSN-L: 0803-8740
Volume: 29
Issue: 3
Pages: 178 - 189
DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2021.1890209
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 5141 Sociology
520 Other social sciences
Funding: This work was supported by the Academy of Finland under Grant 308249.
Copyright information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.