“Think about your senses!” Workshop on Ethnographic Portrait Writing with Delwar Husain

image1From October the 5th to 8th, the autumn school of the amazing Transformations Network took place in Munich. I always highly enjoy these inspiring encounters with professors and PhD students. This time we had participants from the universities of Base
l, Edinburgh, Graz, Copenhagen, Murcia, Tel Aviv, Zagreb and of course Munich. Besides listening to engaging presentations, debates on controversial topics, learning new methods and enjoying the discussions in the coffee breaks we had the unique opportunity to meet Delwar Hussain. He is one of the authors of the blog Spitalfields Life, which publishes portraits of humans, culture, streets, plants etc. of London’s East End.

On Friday, Delwar Husain conducted an inspiring workshop on how to write and use ethnographic portraits in anthropology. Soon the question came up, how much fiction can be integrated in portraits, we write for our dissertations or other publications. He encouraged us to consider our senses when writing portraits: “Think about your senses.” In order to convey a particular ambience to the audience, it is essential to describe colors, sounds, smells and feelings. Thus, a special bond between the reader and the author can be established. Ultimately, we should be aware of the fact that “we have the responsibility for the people we ask questions.“

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