Interviews as Catastrophic Encounters: An Object Relations Methodology for IR Research

Julia Gallagher

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The article uses psychoanalytic object relations theory to construct a way to understand why interviews in IR research – viewed here as encounters between strangers – can be felt as 'catastrophic'. The theory supports critical theoretical approaches that suggest that the world is structured through self-other relations, and argues that encounters with 'others' are unsettling because they can undermine the ways we constitute ourselves in relation to the wider world. Yet such challenges are inevitable if research is to challenge existing object constructions and the power relations that attend them. The article illustrates this argument with a detailed discussion of research interviews conducted in Zimbabwe.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-461
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Studies Perspectives
Issue number4
Early online date2 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2016


  • interviews, critical IR, object relations theory, Klein

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