Ross Questions Possibility of Objective Reporting
Ross argues that experience is guided by preconceptions.
Throughout his career, Ross was consistent in his claims to an objectivity born of a certain ignorance. He was convinced that one’s perceptions were strongly affected by preconceptions, that one typically saw that which one set out to see. Later in his career, Ross would proudly highlight the fact that he had deliberately read no accounts of the places he was traveling, so as to minimize any influences on his immediate perceptions. In this early travelogue, however, Ross merely points to the problem — “In principle, there is nothing more difficult than truly objective reporting” — and asks his readers to trust that he will describe everything he experiences without presumptions. It will be difficult, he admits, because, for years, West and Central Europeans have only been briefed about Russia in the most tendentious ways by both the Bolsheviks and their opponents. Yet Ross himself makes few attempts to locate his perceptions against the backdrop of his existing preconceptions, nor to interpret his own position within this discursive field.
“Erste Eindrücke in der Sowjetukraine,” chp. 4 in Colin Ross, Der Weg nach Osten: Reise durch Rußland, Ukraine, Transkaukasien, Persien, Buchara und Turkestan (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1923), pp. 29-34.