Amsterdam, Netherlands

Reading Ethnographically: How Fiction Can Be Used to Read and Write Anthropology

online course
when 9 January 2023 - 20 January 2023
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 2 EC
fee EUR 800

This course aims to create a transdisciplinary approach towards reading and writing both fiction and ethnographic literature.
Through finding connections between anthropology and fiction, students can learn to recognise and apply anthropological perspectives and see theory in action in non-academic writing. Candidates can enhance their own writing skills to write ethnography/qualitative research more experimentally, for academic audiences and dissemination outside academia.

There will be an emphasis on storytelling, alternative perspectives towards finding/creating/writing knowledge, and engaged learning.

Proposed topics of discussion are:

- Anthropologists as writers/novelists
- Methods: what makes research, and therefore its output, 'ethnographic'?
- Writers as theorists/anthropologists
- Ethnographic fiction vs fiction in ethnography
- How to convey something: writing styles, discussions of medium (text, audio visual), and storytelling
- Positionality and reflexivity: how lessons from anthropology can lead to intuitive and contextually-embedded writing
- Representation: who gets to tell stories/research? Whose stories are heard/texts are read? Where does our work stand in this?
- Audience: who is certain work/writing intended for? Author-reader relationship

Course leader

Aleeha Zahra Ali is a PhD candidate at VU and Early Stage Researcher at the MIDA project. Her research interests include embodiment, phenomenology, and knowledge-production. Her current project focuses on religious practice and digitisation.

Target group

This course is aimed at advanced Bachelor's, Master’s students and PhD candidates. Familiarity with ethnographic theory is a bonus, but not an essential requirement.

Course aim

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

- Learn how to combine research and storytelling.
- Analyse texts from an anthropological lens, by learning to find/recognise anthropological value and themes in a variety of texts.
- Learn to differentiate between writing techniques that are traditionally 'fictional' or 'ethnographic'. This will be done by reading examples of both, and also texts where the boundaries blur.
- Enhance their own academic/non-academic writing practices, by learning about different writing styles and how to consciously incorporate research, context, themes, arguments, and objectives into text.
- The fundamental aim of the course is to encourage free, experimental, and assimilative thinking that can be incorporated into emerging academic work.

Fee info

EUR 800: -Students, PhD students and employees of VU Amsterdam: €500
-Students and PhD students: €600
-Professionals: €800
Applications received before 15 October €50 receive Early Bird Discount


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