Beyond Writing



In anthropology, most researchers produce a written synthesis of their work. Most Harvard undergraduates, after completing their fieldwork, will writes a comprehensive essay, term-paper, or thesis. Sometimes, however, individuals feel that they are not able to articulate their experiences in writing. Across all levels of academia and research, therefore, there are options for researchers to supplement and present their research through alternative modes. 

In the past few decades, some anthropologists have started to incorporate visual, sensory, and audio materials in presenting their work. In this section, we introduce some of the reasons why you might choose to use one of these forms of presentation and how students have done so in the past few years. Within the Harvard anthropology department, students are encouraged to critically engage with different anthropological approaches. 


Sensory Ethnography is the sensual representation of work, typically through film and video recordings, using material obtained during prolonged engagement with your fieldwork site and community. (Class listings, link to relevant professors) 



Creative writing enables anthropologists to move across the disciplinary boundaries of literature and anthropology. Anthropologists who produce creative writing often challenge assumptions of authority and authenticity; through creative prose- including poetry, dramatic works, and original or adapted fiction- writers attempt to engage in expressive work that exposes the creative subjectivity of fieldwork. (Link to Barbara Tedlock/Gonzo Ethnography?...


Community outreach/programming/collaboration(need a word?) often provides anthropologists with a way to move their work past academic insularity. In the last twenty years, in both social anthropology and archaeology, collaboration with communities has become an important disciplinary practice: collaboration enables researchers to question their own work, and facilitate multivalent anthropological practice. For many individuals, community outreach may take the form of collaboratively designed projects, public activities, educational events, and roundtables. (This needs to be developed more, but I think it's an important one to include- Installations and community outreach have a lot of overlap.)

Installations emphasize creative forms of expression that move beyond the standard academic paper or book. installations often enable anthropologists to present their work in a way that challenges conventional conceptions of research. Installations may include, but are not limited to permanent and temporary exhibits, galleries, recitals, performances, public events, and oral history recordings.  (Rowan Flad's "Contested Archaeologies" class just did this. Either Rowan or I could be interviewed to talk about this; also, any of Diana Loren's class. It might be a good place to put in a video of archaeology as providing an alternative methodology.)


(Note from Zoe: We need to discuss what we're actually encouraging students to do. We could list a whole bunch of things, and professionals who have used these sources. We need to figure out if we want to focus on VES/the Sensory Ethnography lab or the different types of projects people can create.)

Many students have chosen to present their work through alternative measures, examples of projects include...... (Ramyar, I need your help here in terms of projects.)

For fear of erasing this prematurely- I'm leaving this here. I think the best way to answer the "when writing doesn't feel right" is through interviews with students who have done alternative projects. This might be a good place to bring in graduate students, as grad students tend to have the most freedom when it comes to doing non-written work. When writing doesn’t feel right -- both (ethical and literal) challenges that come up with writing AND when there are different means of telling the story that are more appropriate

    -Sensory Ethnography -- ways that video/sound provide alternatives

        -Explanation of why someone might do this….

        -Answering How…

        -Links to documentaries

    -Are there any other interdisciplinary collabs? news?

Film running at the top?   List of work between VES/Anthro...