The Beginning of the Inverview Process

I first went to Càlig in 1978 to see the house I had bought sight-unseen the year before. Càlig is located in the northern part of la Comunidad Valenciana in the Spanish province of Castellón, 8 km from the Mediterranean. Listening to neighbors’ stories in the street soon became a favorite past time.  However, when I received the Rockefeller Grant in 1988 I realized that I needed a wider group of people to tell me about the changes that had occurred in the past 10 years (1978-88) in Càlig. The socialist mayor, Agustí Mercè, kindly gave me a list of 15 men, which he said, included five conservatives, five socialists, and five politically neutral. While trying to locate these men, I began to practice interviewing with my women neighbors and friends, some young people, and even my carpenter. The basic question asked in the more formal interviews about changes in the village received the same answer from everyone- the village now had a sewer system, the streets were paved, many people had fixed up their homes, agriculture was doing well, and people didn’t have to emigrate anymore. An optimistic tone permeated this part of the interviews. However, after the villagers talked about these past ten years, memories from the past began to surface, and they began to tell me stories from the Civil War and the Post-Civil War. In order to learn more about the villagers’ experiences, I applied for and received a Teacher/Scholar Award from the National Endowment for Humanities for this project: Seasons and Cycles in a Spanish Village: Today’s Voices, Yesterday’s Memories.

-Martha

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