Category: "Writing"


10:26:27 pmCategories: Music, literature, arts..., Writing

Writing and performance

It was hard picking a photo for this post. So many of my photos evoke memories from my many slam nights in Paris, but how to find a photo that can convey some of theses feelings to the readers of this blog… With this one, I hope to put across the mundaneness of French slam (the greengrocer’s Sharazade in the background), as well as some of it’s diversity of participants.

My thesis takes shape from the margins, and slowly, slowly am I circling in the core chapters. I don’t think this is a particularly good way of composing the general argument of the work, but I have a fairly good idea of why the core content just keep slipping away from me. The final part of this core, the chapter where I give an in depth analysis of the slam sessions, is finally now on its way. Thus on a deeper level, it feels like I’ve always had an idea of what goes on. But to actually describe what happens, is far harder. The first part of what I call the core, is thus just very hard to get a grip on.

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Anthropologists and novelists, part two

Anthropology is just one way among many fields that try to make sense of and represent social life. A post ago I stated that it probably isn’t even the most superior at it. Funnily, in the days after I wrote that post, I read in the papers several similar comments made by other social scientists.

“The best novelists and playwrights are – almost by definition – those who understand human nature better than others” (the social and political theorist Jon Elster quoted by the ditto theorist Rune Slagstad in Morgenbladet 19-25, 2010. Jon Elster is interested in the role emotions play in relations to knowledge and behaviour. And no social scientist gets as deep into these intricacies as authors.

The gender researcher and novelist Wencke Müleisen has provided some fine social science inspired analyses of Knausgård’s writing earlier, and some days ago in a feminist column in Klassekampen she, too, ended her comment by singing the praise of novels:

A friend told me that while reading volume three [about childhood], she realised for the first time that her mother had behaved similarly [passive] in relation to her father’s aggressive behaviour. … It is hard to understand how this passive feminine violence seeps so invisibly into a kind of cultural gender pattern that one simply just doesn’t see it. In that respect, it is telling that in Knaugsård’s novel, [the mother’s deceit] is staged [“iscenesatt”] as absence and silence. Much seem to indicate that more readers get activated unpleasant memories of fathers’ aggression and mothers’ betrayals. The visibility of masculine violence makes us blind of the feminine passive acceptance. Language at work [“språkarbeid”] is needed. Novels can do that. (KK 22.02.2010, my translation)

Why is that? How do novelists do that? Does it have anything to say that the versimilitude (truthlikeness) of their depiction of the world within and around us resonate with the reader’s experience, rather than hinge on the logics of scientific methodology? Or is it a function of the literary language compared to concise concepts?


Anthropology and fiction (part 1)

The reason why I became an anthropologist is that anthropology can include anything. Early in my studies, when I still aimed in an other direction, a professor told me that until her MPhil she had had a very broad field of interests, including reading French novels in their original language. But in order to reach her position, she had had to forsake much of that. Talking to her, made me realise that I wasn’t ready to give up on all my different interests in pursuing a career. So, if my future job wouldn’t spare me time to immerse myself in social and political issues, travel, film, literature and other things that interested me, I would have to take all that with me into my future job. And if I wasn’t a hundred percent sure when I started with anthropology, I certainly was after reading just a few pages of the introductory text Small places, Large issues. Anyway, the title says it all, doesn’t it?

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10:46:05 amCategories: Writing, Other

The long and winding road of a research project

My previous research project followed a typical comedy structure. It was a difficult but steady upward struggle, with hard work overcoming challenges and a quite happy ending. The present one, however, staggered right from the outset into a maze of existential brooding and substantive challenges. Some of the challenges pertaining to the research in Paris as compared to the study in London, I’ve written about elsewhere. But there’s more to a life in research than just research difficulties.

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11:08:07 amCategories: Fieldwork, Writing

Research and ethics: France on Facebook

All of a sudden, people I knew from different circles in France started appearing on Facebook, about two years after the craze hit Norway. It reminded me of a question brought up in a seminar preparing graduate students for fieldwork I lead a while ago: Should one include one’s informants on one’s regular Facebook account? A girl wondered whether to keep two accounts; one for the fieldworker and one for her private self. If not, all attempts at anonymising would of course be futile.

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11:02:15 pmCategories: Writing, Academic life and family

Home office

Tomorrow is my first day in my “home office” (a Norwegicism for working from home). The little lion turns three months this week, and the progress he has made recently makes life with him far more joyous as well as a lot easier. His recent decision to refuse drinking from a bottle is on the other hand something we’ve not been too happy about as the day for sharing the parental leave has come closer. He’s a real slow-drinking glutton (who has grown 13 cm and 3 kilos in 11 weeks!), so how are we going to solve this? However, luckily, as part of the parental leave, I have the right to two hours of nursing time deducted from my 7 ½ hours working day, so I think we’ll work it through… And I’m so much looking forward to starting up again tomorrow!


06:35:54 pmCategories: Writing

The question of style, voice and perspective

For a long time, I’ve been certain in which style and voice I wanted to write my thesis. I did not want it to be too academic this time, but rather write in a more prose-like style, trying to convey the feeling and experience of “being there” through a more personal style, and with a slightly stronger personal presence in the texts. Instead of arguing left and right with every thinkable theory and ethnography – in the text proper and/or in hundreds of footnotes – like I tried to excel in my previous thesis, this time I rather wanted my argument to mainly rely on my own ethnographic descriptions.

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02:55:17 pmCategories: Post-fieldwork, Writing


Ouch! High summer is long gone! Clearly, it’s autumn out there: The air is brisk, the sun is lower in the horizon and red, orange and yellow have started to invade the greenery. Not only do I not particularly like autumn (however nice the weather might be, it never escapes melancholic undertones), but also do I not like to get surprised by how fast time passes. And high summer is ages ago!

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