02:30:09 pmCategories: Anthropological notes, Writing

"Start in the middle"

Last week the amount of empirical data and loose ends unsettled me in my intentions to get on writing. I asked everybody I met if they could recommend me a technique to sort the data and how and where to start writing. The second best advice I got was to start listening through the interviews and jot down central themes and get inspired from that. It’s a good idea and I think the conversations and individuals were my point of departure for my Master thesis. But this time I doubt that the interviews are anywhere near my peak performance as a fieldworker. First, they were conducted in French. Second, and most importantly; my slammer acquaintances aka interviewees knew I’d not be able to anonymize them donc what they told me are mostly bland and well-groomed versions closer to what anyone can find on the internet than what one can see and hear on and around a slam session. On the other hand, the interviews certainly give me background information providing context for the individuals and their relationship to the slam… or whatever… I don’t know yet. I just know I felt ok about them but nothing more. They weren’t eye-opening enlightenments like most of the interviews I did in London.

“Start right in the middle, with the core of the issue,” a friend casually remarked during a conversation mostly about other things when I met her last week. Yes, of course, that’s obvious, I suddenly realised. I had started in the other end, in the margins, trying to track my own route of discovery from the beginning of my stay in Paris. I thought it would be an interesting journey to re-travel: Where and when and how did I come across certain topics and reach particular understandings? I realise now that first I have to determine for sure which are the important topics and understandings that need to be pinpointed – thus I have to start from the core…

And the core is… the soirées of course! I’ll go through them one by one, focusing on the different venues and events, starting with the four soirées I attended and filmed at L’Atelier du Plateau (already mentioned in this post). I don’t know yet what exactly will come out of this, but I’ll for sure get an overview of the variety of persons attending and the themes they approach. What a relief to find a way out of the empirical maze!

1 comment

Comment from: Aleksandra [Visitor]  

Start from the core… indeed! at least it worked for me when I started working on my thesis. it’s also much more motivating to start with “the hottest of the hot”:) I think researcher’s journey is interesting for readers, but absolutely boring for himself to write it down from A to Z.
it’s also fun to come back to your startpoint after you have dealt with the core… can be really surprising.
anyway, you who are into art and migration - “Migratory Aesthetics” at Stenersenmuseet maybe something you could like. I have not seen this yet, but sounds interesting and I thought about you when I read about it: http://www.stenersen.museum.no/en/exhibitions.htm

29/03/08 @ 15:45

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