kraut atlantik

media anthropology site

marilyn strathern on writing

there has always been much ado on how to write in the field of ethnography. starting up with the writing culture debate, its concern on othering, authoring and sublime rhetoric etc… a necessary reflection on what and how we write that, at its best, drags us into an agora, where the author has become a cacophonous creature, built upon a polyphony of voices, sounds, interferences, static noises and distortions. rather a lecture by stockhausen than mozart for sure.

however, even before the ethnographer / anthropologist has to face the sonic as such.
there is the writing process itself. that is, the actual part of creating articles, reviews, essays or even books. it often seems as if science has its rules and structures, which just need to be filled. that’s it.
but thats not. blood, sweat and low self-esteem at its worst.
the very fact that this doesn’t work out that easily most of the time is pinned down in a beautiful little essay by dame marilyn strathern that has been published on the durham university’s writing across boundaries, an initiative of its anthropology department to help and teach academic writing.

[…] I write all the time, but what marks off new tasks from old (or going over old ground) is finding myself plunged into something close to despair. I lose confidence, my self-esteem plummets, it is clear that everyone has already said things better, and it had been quite absurd to take on a task that now seems
insuperable. […]

for further publications see: cambridge university


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