Discourse, Authority and Mediation in an Ethnographic Encounter in Eastern Mexico

Minerva Oropeza-Escobar


Although the discursive construction of authority has been largely investigated for different kinds of interaction and settings, studies concerned with authority in ethnographic encounters are scarce. In the present article, I demonstrate that in this kind of encounters the mediational character of the interactants roles and the transcendence of the co-constructed text with respect to the current event play a crucial role in the construction of authority through discourse. My data consist of two events in 1990 recorded as part of a research project on beliefs and ritual practices among the Totonac population in Eastern Mexico, as well as the corresponding field notes. While my focus is on the linguistic and discursive resources used in the recorded sessions, I demonstrate that a well-founded account also involves a previous event, in which the methodological tools and interactional dynamics were negotiated, as well as a rehearsal previous to each recording session proposed by my consultant as a means to ensure the relevance of the information and the appropriateness of its delivery.

Keywords: Authority; Discourse; Field research; Mediation; Mexico.

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