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Alive in the Writing: a Workshop on How to Bring the Aliveness of Fieldwork Into Your Scientific Writing (avec CUSO géographie)


28 mai (15h-18h30) et 4 juin (9h30-13h00)


Mme Laura Neville, UNIL Mme Muriel Bruttin, UNIL


Part 1: Team of "Otherwise Magazine" : Marco Di Nunzio, Fatima Raja, Letizia Bonanno, Jose Sherwood

Part 2: Megan Daigle


Social science writing can sometimes feel a little bit dry and dull. Taking this into consideration, the aim of the workshop is to help students engage with creative forms of writing and practice storytelling. The workshop wants to offer a space for theoretical reflections, concrete examples and practical writing exercises that allow and encourage participants to attempt more lively scientific writing. In particular, we want to think about ways to narrate the everyday and bring the liveliness of our fieldwork experiences and research materials into the writing.

The workshop is organized fully online over two half-days, on Friday May 28th (15h-18h30) and Friday June 4th (9h30-13h00).


The workshop is co-organized by the geography program and the gender program of the CUSO.

Half-day 1 

Friday 28th May, 15h00-18h30

Led by the 4 members of the Otherwise collective.

The aim of this half-day workshop is to help participants cultivate ethnography as a form of storytelling. In the workshop, we will discuss ways of crafting stories that speak for themselves without statements of intents or objective of argument, while at the same time, being able to achieve depth, generate journeys of empathy and solidarity, and challenge today's most entrenched assumptions. In doing so, the workshop will explore both the textual and the graphic as central dimensions of ethnographic storytelling.

Half-day 2

Friday 4th June, 9h30-13h00

Led by Dr. Megan Daigle.

This session of the workshop will focus on narrative writing. It will be led by Dr. Megan Daigle, author of From Cuba with Love: Sex and Money in the Twenty-First Century (2015), which deals with love, sexuality, and politics in contemporary Cuba. During the workshop, she will reflect on and share her own writing practices, assign examples of narrative writing to read, and lead a discussion on the political and ethical implications of narrative work.


Part 1

28 May 2021, 3pm - 6:30pm

Facilitators: Team of "Otherwise Magazine" : Marco Di Nunzio, Fatima Raja, Letizia Bonanno, Jose Sherwood


The workshop will explore the textual and the graphic.
- Session 1: Writing Otherwise - an introduction (Marco Di Nunzio)
- Session 2: A matter of voice and rhythm (Fatima Raja & Marco Di Nunzio)
- Session 3: The textual and the graphic (Letizia Bonanno & Jose Sherwood)
- Session 4: Graphic workshop (Jose Sherwood & Letizia Bonanno)
- Session 5: Advice session




Part 2

4 June 2021, 9:30am - 1pm

Facilitator: Megan Daigle



9:30 Introductions
10:00 Initial story + responses
10:30 Session on politics and ethics of narrative
11:15 Break
11:30 Student stories/writing inspirations + responses
12:00 Session on writing process and navigating disciplinary boundaries
12:30 Q&A, general discussion, wrap-up
13:00 End


Online sur zoom


Part 1

28 May 2021, 3pm - 6:30pm

Facilitators: Team of "Otherwise Magazine" : Marco Di Nunzio, Fatima Raja, Letizia Bonanno, Jose Sherwood


Essential Readings


Recommended readings

  • Dix, Benjamin & Kaur, Raminder. 2019. 'Drawing-Writing Culture: The Truth-Fiction Spectrum of an Ethno-Graphic Novel on the Sri Lankan Civil War and Migration', Visual Anthropology Review, 35: 1, 76–111.
  • Frank A. W. 2010. Letting stories breathe. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press. 
  • Narayan, Kirin. 2012. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press


Suggested readings

  • Besnier, N., & Morales, P. (2018). Tell the story: How to write for American Ethnologist. American Ethnologist, 45(2), 163-172.
  • Hannerz, Ulf. 2016. 'Writing Otherwise'. In The Anthropologist as Writer: Genres and Contexts in the Twenty-First Century (ed.) Helena Wulff. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 254-270.
  • Mintz, S. W. (1989). The sensation of moving, while standing still. American Ethnologist, 16(4), 786-796.
  • Wulff, Helena. 2021. 'Writing Anthropology. In The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology (eds.) F. Stein, S Lazar, M. Kandea, H. Diemberger, J. Robbins, A. Sanchez & R. Stasch.


Preparatory work

We would like participants to submit a 500-word writing sample in advance of the workshop. This can be an extract of their fieldnotes or preferably the incipit of a draft version of a narrative piece. This will be the base for our discussions on writing and graphic storytelling. Participants will then be able to expand on those pieces of writing during the workshop.



Part 2

4 June 2021, 9:30am - 1pm

Facilitator: Megan Daigle


Preparatory readings


Suggested further readings


Optional preparation

  • Bring a (short) story - your own, or someone else's - to read out loud. Ideally, no more than five minutes long when read aloud.
  • Alternatively, come prepared to share an author or the title of a piece of writing that you find inspiring for your writing and why. This might be a "disciplinary text" but it may also be a novel, a poem, a children's book - anything, as long as it speaks to your work and lights your fire.


Délai d'inscription 01.04.2021
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