BSP Podcast: Joshua Bergamin on lived experience in phenomenological interviews

podcast update

This episode of the BSP Podcast sees Joshua Bergamin presenting a paper from our 2022 annual conference, ‘Engaged Phenomenology II’.

Season 6 episode 138: 14 May 2024

Season 6 continues with another presentation from our 2022 annual conference, Engaged Phenomenology II: Explorations of Embodiment, Emotions, and Spatiality. This episode features a presentation from Joshua Bergamin, University of Vienna.

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Joshua Bergamin
‘When is ‘my truth’ true? Interpreting lived experience in phenomenological interviews’

Many topics and methodologies for investigating subjectivity that have become widespread in the social sciences – for example, an emphasis on ‘lived experience’ – have been significantly developed by applied phenomenologists. Yet phenomenology’s own commitments often bring it into tension with giving full voice to its subjects. For example, the ‘bracketing’ of prejudices may not take into account how those prejudices are constitutive of the subject herself. Furthermore, researchers are rarely trained to self-reflect on how their own history – cultural, sexual, professional – might colour their interpretation of a subject’s ‘bracketed’ responses. A risk therefore is that a subject’s experience be distorted by the researcher’s own interests. But at the same time, the latter’s immersion in a broader investigative discourse offers insights to which their subject may have little access. My paper examines this tension as it manifests in an ongoing interdisciplinary research project, working with improvising musical ensembles. Centred on the co-creation of a ‘hermeneutic circle’ between artwork, artist, and analysts, the project aims not only to render the research process itself transparent, but to consciously blur the distinction between researchers and research subjects, treating subjects as partners in a creative process in which all participants have a voice and an opportunity to learn/grow. After briefly outlining our methodologies, I dig deeper into the problems of truth and interpretation that this process exposes, namely: – At what points do ‘lived experience’ accounts reach limits that might be better informed by critical distance or historical consciousness? – Is it essential to reconcile contradictions between levels of analysis? If so, how do we give weight to values like truth while doing justice to different lived realities? If not, can we avoid reperpetuating power imbalances between researcher and subject? I examine these questions with reference to particular case studies, while suggesting potential generalisable conclusions.

Biography: Joshua Bergamin is a philosopher at the University of Vienna and co-PI of the interdisciplinary artistic research project (Musical) Improvisation and Ethics, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). He has a PhD from Durham University, where he worked as an ‘applied phenomenologist,’ an MA from the University of Queensland for work on Heidegger and cognitive science, and BAs from the University of South Australia. His academic work is supplemented by training and practical experience as a physical artist and musician (mostly percussion), and he has choreographed and performed at many festivals and immersive events.

Further Information:

This recording is taken from our Annual UK Conference 2022: Engaged Phenomenology II: Explorations of Embodiment, Emotions, and Sociality (Exeter, UK / Hybrid) with the University of Exeter. Sponsored by the Wellcome Centre, Egenis, and the Shame and Medicine project. For the conference our speakers either presented in person at Exeter or remotely to people online and in-room, and the podcast episodes are recorded from the live broadcast feeds.

The British Society for Phenomenology is a not-for-profit organisation set up with the intention of promoting research and awareness in the field of Phenomenology and other cognate arms of philosophical thought. Currently, the society accomplishes these aims through its journal, events, and podcast. Why not find out more, join the society, and subscribe to our journal the JBSP?