In this public lecture, Gabrielle Carey and Julia Brown hope to achieve at least two things. First, to humanise and reduce fear around the condition of schizophrenia (a heavily neglected social issue in Australia). Second, to show how two disciplines (literature and anthropology) can complement each other in the name of better communicating lived experiences of difficult subject matter.
As the Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby powerfully put it, it would help if we didn’t start by seeing females and males as being from different planets. Experiences of violence and the broader social receptiveness to vulnerability, along with the manifestation of mental disorders and treatment, are influenced - but not entirely determined by gender.
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.
As I now write up my data, I’m representing people that I can no longer consult. I can only draw on the words they gave me and the unspoken elements that I observed. I would like to think that they would approve of anything I write. I know this is not, however, realistic.