List of great ethnographies!

I haven’t blogged in a very long time. Part of it was being away in India, doing my fieldwork and then being back and trying to get used to life here. I have a blogpost in the works on the struggles of being back from fieldwork but first, here is a list of ethnographies curated by the students in anthropology at ANU.

Brave new words

When I was new to anthropology I really wanted some kind of ‘best of’ list of ethnographies to get me started. For the most part when I asked anthropologists to tell what work had influenced them the most, they had to stop and think about it or they gave equivocal answers.

So I’m pleased to circulate a recently drafted ‘best of’ list produced by anthropology students at the Australian National University. I am not endorsing the list, but simply making it available. It’s encouraging that so many were published in the last fifteen years. Perhaps this is a sign of intellectual progress and generational change within the discipline.

Here it is, with thanks to Shiori Shakuto and the Anthropgrad list:

Abu-Lughod, Lila 1986. Veiled Sentiments: Honour and Poetry in a Bedouin Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Allison, Anne 1994. Nightwork: Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo…

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a metaphor for thesis completion?

I’ve recently had a few conversations about thesis writing and writing in general. I find writing hard, mainly because I am “burrowing” kind of writer, and as this post says, that is against almost everything one is taught about writing. One must learn to write in bits and pieces and multitask. Its multitasking when writing that is hard for me. I need to focus on one piece for at least a day before I can write but with all the other tasks at hand, I find that hard to do and hence it takes longer to write.


I read a tweet not too long ago from Margaret Atwood. She announced that she was just about to ‘go down the writing burrow’ for a while.

Her metaphor of the writing burrow really struck me. The ‘burrow’ clearly signals that you will be out of communication for a bit. You’re going to be cut off, living in your own world, tunneling deep into ideas, hibernating until the writing is done.

The notion of the writing burrow also rings true to me. It suits those times when I have to be completely obsessed with producing a particular piece of text. But it flies in the face of all that writing advice which says that all you have to do is to write regularly every day and the big pile of words will just appear. You do have to write regularly, yes, but sometimes you have to do more – you…

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