P72
Anthropology of storytelling

Convenors:
Jessica Symons (University of Manchester)
Rodolfo Maggio (University of Oxford)
Discussant:
Alexander King
Location:
Appleton Tower, Seminar Room 2.12
Start time:
20 June, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

We invite contributions that explore the capacity of storytelling to convey anthropological insight, including ethnographically rich descriptions, fictional stories inspired by ethnography, or playful interventions.

Long abstract:

To what extent is a sense of beauty stimulated through rich description and capturing the imagination? Insights are lost through an author's inability to captivate their audience. Movements gain momentum through leaders' ability to inspire action. Religions gain power through orators' depiction of glorious enlightenment. The sensuous frisson that accompanies a good tale has a resonant and mobilizing force. Working with creativity as a strategic response to "dealing with the unknown, the uncertain in our lives" (Borofsky 2001:69) allows for everyday creativity but also for significant moments. "Yet there is a sense in which artistic creation, rooted as it may be in the negotiated and partial practices of "flow" in everyday life, also achieves itself by standing out from that background of fluid improvisation of forms and becoming a foreground that crystallises into a new shape" (Strathern and Stewart 2009:xii). Stories provide shape to the flow of life and ethnography is perfectly situated to throw forms of many kinds. We are interested in what happens when the story takes hold and emerges as an independent crystallization of ethnographic experience. What happens when anthropologists engage in rich description of character and context? Who are the audiences of such an account? We invite contributions that explore the capacity of storytelling to convey anthropological insights. We hope for ethnographically rich descriptions, stories inspired by ethnographic research or playful interventions. All submissions should seek to engage and captivate the audience.