16-20 July 2018
Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, Switzerland
We are delighted to host this year’s Creole Intensive Program at the University of Bern. It will provide students with a great opportunity to discuss and deepen their knowledge about ethnographic narratives and narrative-based research methods.
Narratives constitute and shape the ways in which a person articulates, interprets, and makes sense of her/his personal, social and environmental lives. The very act of storytelling - in which notions of memory, desires, hopes, fiction and human connection converge in the intersection between the personal and political - acknowledges that we attribute meaning to the world through constructing a narrative of it. Recent approaches such as Feld (2012), Rapport (1994, 2017), Stoller (2014) and Jackson (2002, 2013, 2013a) refer to storytelling as valuable approach to understanding the affects and uncertainties of people’s daily life.
But narrative is more than storytelling and the ascription of meaning: it is also an anthropological concept based on the attempt to understand social life in general and moral life in particular. In also ascribing a communal and pluralistic dimension to narrative beyond the personal, we invite participants in the 2018 IP meeting to also consider the importance of action in the public realm and highlight the ethical consequences of storytelling. Thus, narrative understood as an analytical category – and particularly so in anthropological analyses – often goes beyond mere storytelling and encompasses all sorts of verbal and nonverbal forms of communication and interactions.
While the compilation and interpretation of interlocutors’ narratives might have traditionally been restricted to biographies, vignettes, micro-histories, and/or oral interview material, anthropologists today face a multitude of newly generated source materials and means of communication and self-representation, ranging from WhatsApp- and Facebook groups, to Snapchat and videos shot by our interlocutors themselves. Does the array and mass of narratives produced and distributed via social media change the way we, as anthropologists, go about collecting and interpreting these narratives? Does this, in consequence, necessitate new ways of re-assembling and coherently re-presenting our fieldwork data? Can or should we even trigger alternative narratives, for example, through practices of re-enactment?
We ask participants to engage with the ethics and politics of ethnographic narrative and storytelling (Jackson, Michael 2013: The Politics of Storytelling) and we also aim at investigating analytic approaches to narrative beyond discourse analysis. This may include performative, sensory and/or experiential practices and methodologies.
Feld, Steven 32012 (1982): Sound and Sentiment. Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression, thirtieth anniversary ed. with a new introduction. Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press.
Jackson, Michael 2013: The Politics of Storytelling. Variations on a Theme by Hannah Arendt, 2nd edition. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.
Jackson, Michael 2013a: The Wherewithal of Life. Ethics, Migration, and the Question of Well-Being. Berkeley etc.: University of California Press.
Jackson, Michael 2002: The Politics of Storytelling. Violence, Transgression, and Intersubjectivity. Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press.
Rapport, Nigel and Morton Nielsen (Eds.) 2017: The Composition of Anthropology: How anthropological texts are written. New York: Routledge.
Rapport, Nigel 1994: The Prose and the Passion. Anthropology, Literature and the Writing of E.M. Forster. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Stoller, Paul 2014: Yaya's Story: The Quest for Well‐Being in the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
We are grateful to our CREOLE partners and for the financial and organizational support from the University of Bern, including the International Office of the University of Bern, the Faculty of Humanities and the Institute of Social Anthropology including its student council.