Ginta Eksne


Biographical interviews produce memory stories in which the person interviewed in not the object but the subject of the story. The interviewer directs the questions in such a way that the narrative reveals not only the events of their lives and their interconnections but also the personal qualities, views and interpersonal relationships of the person interviewed. The researcher should be aware of their own influence on the narrative and its interpretation. Oral history methods are characterized by a hermeneutic and empathic approach which is sensitive to social context. In this paper I present the life history of a forester, Ernests Briedis who was born in what is now Latvia in 1905. The interview took place when the narrator was ninety and covers his childhood, his decision to follow his father’s profession, forty years work in the forest as well as his world view and values. The forest is saturated with emotional, aesthetic and ethical values. The statements of some other foresters are also included. These experiences with the care and safe-guarding of the forest open up a deeper understanding of the relationship between humans and forest and contrast with contemporary mercantile attitudes towards the forest as a source of income.