Special ANSA Collaboration: Hanne Worsoe & Romy Listo on Fieldwork Trauma in & Outsider Witnessing

This week we bring you a special collaboration between The Familiar Strange and the Australian Network of Student Anthropologists or ANSA. In this special collaboration, Familiar Stranger Alex sits down with Hanne Worsoe and Dr Romy Listo to discuss some of the difficulties that arise from working in particularly intense or distressing field sites. Throughout the conversation they model some of the methods that can benefit new PhD students who are potentially entering into their field work. 

It was a really interesting conversation and thank you again the ANSA for collaborating with us on this project! 

Just a note on sound quality: We conducted this chat over Zoom so the internet and audio quality might vary in some spots. The podcast editing team is working on a solution! 

Links and Citations 

Check out ANSA’s social media here:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ANSA_web
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuNetworkofStudentAnthropologists

Read more about Hanne Worsoe’s research here:

Read more about Dr Romy Listo’s work here:

Further reading: We also recommend looking up the following readings and the Dulwich Centre website https://dulwichcentre.com.au/

Denborough, D. (2008). Collective narrative practice: responding to individuals, groups, and communities who have experienced trauma. Adelaide, S. Aust.: Dulwich Centre Publications. https://dulwichcentre.com.au/product/collective-narrative-practice-responding-to-individuals-groups-and-communities-who-have-experienced-trauma/

Jackson, M. (2002). The politics of storytelling: Violence, transgression, and intersubjectivity. Copenhagen Denmark: Museum Tusculanum Press, University of Copenhagen.

Marlowe, J. (2010). Using a Narrative Approach of Double-listening in Research Contexts. International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work, 2010(3), 41-51.

Marlowe, J. (2015). ‘Going Slowly, Slowly’: an ethnographic engagement with resettled Sudanese men. 40th Anniversary of Studies in Symbolic Interaction, 153-173.

Payne, M. (2006). Narrative therapy: an introduction for counsellors (2nd ed. ed.). London, UK & Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE.


“It was very effective in helping and supporting people who were about to go into fieldwork or who had just come back from fieldwork” 

“You feel very supported by one person, because you are being listened to and someone’s bearing witness to your experience” 

“I think using these kind of things was really very helpful for me in being able to process some of distress that I felt while I was in the field” 

“It is tough and you really need that capacity to  be able to share with someone when you are going through those things it really does help” 

“I think there’s a fear in academia of being able to express vulnerability and difficulty” 

“Everyone had some kind of “war story” so to speak” 

“Everyone had stories from the field that they would often shrug off and minimize” 

“There wasn’t this space or the words to be able to talk about that in the context of research” 

“I think academia needs to acknowledge its vulnerability at a number of different levels, but certainly at a fieldwork level and being affected by fieldwork” 

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