My friends know that I am writing about them, but they do not know how I will do so. They do not know if I will be able to capture the nuances of their gender identities, if I will take their words and actions out of context or expose their secrets, shared after whispers of “this can’t go in your study, okay?”
From whence do our myths come, and how do they bear similarities across continents and generations? Anthropologists continue to speculate. Meanwhile, the scenes of contemporary odysseys – be they of tourists, scholars, spouses, or refugees; patterned according to taste, décor, algorithms, or despair – are most complete when we have never been, like unrequited loves.
This post is a little outside our usual mandate, but we are intrigued by the idea that Professor Robinson proposes: an interactive online project she is working on to share and find publication avenues for the works of the late anthropologist Chandra Jayawardena. What would it mean to use field notes that have undergone no analysis? What is it like using the raw data of someone who can no longer have a say on how it is assessed?
As anthropologist Kirin Narayan put to readers of her book Alive in the Writing, the creative process of ethnographic writing can grow from ‘the impulse to find company amid the often isolating and difficult aspects of writing’. In ethnographic writing, we need to somehow re-galvanise our fieldwork experiences that are now in the past.