Ethnographic Writing Tip # 5 - Embrace Dialogue
“Learning how to write dialogue can liven up a manuscript,” the professor said.
“But many ethnographies use block quotes or straight transcriptions of their informants’ words,” the student said. “I want to be faithful to the original conversation.”
“Writing good dialogue can be more faithful to the original conversation. It incorporates the voice of the ethnographer and allows for the inclusion of specific details about vocal intonations or body language,” the professor replied, modulating her voice and crossing her arms across her chest.
The student shook his head. “But no one ever taught me how to write dialogue.”
“There are some great style guides out there, and it is worth learning how to do because well written dialogue infuses a text with stylistic diversity. Varying the lengths of your paragraphs will make your writing more reader- friendly, and the best way to create short paragraphs is to write dialogue.” The professor raised her eyebrows.
“Maybe I’ll give it a try.” The student nodded.
“Good.” The professor smiled. “I hope you do.”
Música de Cuba.
Beppie (Johan van der Keuken, 1965)
La fin d’un pays, dans les Cévennes, filmée par Raymond Depardon
Musuk Nolte has been documenting the everyday lives of the Shawis ethnic group in the Peruvian Amazonas, as they search for balance between modernity and a preservation of their own culture.
Shawi is the name of an ethnic group inhabiting a spit of land in the Province of Alto Amazonas, in the depths of the Peruvian jungle. Even when living in complete isolation, two days away from the closest city, over the course of centuries, they have had to resist and hold out against the indifference and ignorance of the Peruvian State. In the late nineteenth century people came to extract rubber from their trees, in the twentieth, they cut them down to use their timber and since then, they come for the oil beneath their feet. Nevertheless, because of their striving, the Shawi people are the ones who have managed to keep more territory than other groups and has become throughout the years a symbol of the indigenous communities’ struggle to preserve their land from the ever-growing interest in exploiting its rich natural resources.
The Shawi people are mysterious by nature. They are one of the least studied groups living in the Amazon Rainforest, however, one of the largest in number, with 13,000 inhabitants scattered through the jungle. They bare an ancient way of unabridged coexistence with the forest, by learning about their mystical powers guided by shamans. These shamans foster Shawi’s religious magic by developing their knowledge of plants and have always been highly respected in the Amazonian legends because of their voluntary isolation. Many of these important lessons are disclosed when taking Ayahuasca. The initiation ceremonies for the taking of Ayahuasca are carried out between the headwaters of the Paranapura and Sillay rivers since before the Inca period. It is a vine that has psychotropic properties which enable communication with the spirits of the forest.
As they get in contact with more urban ways of life, they try balancing their traditions with modernity. Being cultural syncretism the outcome, some of their practices have been lost, however, they have clung to essential features of their heritage, like the preservation of their original language, their hunting techniques and use of medicinal plants.
The free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.Happy birthday, John Steinbeck – celebrate with one of the most beautiful meditations on the creative spirit and the meaning of life ever written. (via explore-blog)
PostSecret - Frank calls them “graphic haiku,” beautiful, elegant, and small in structure but powerfully emotional.
It all began with an idea Frank Warren had for a community art project. He began handing out postcards to strangers and leaving them in public places — asking people to write down a secret they had never told anyone and mail it to him, anonymously.
The response was overwhelming. The secrets were both provocative and profound, and the cards themselves were works of art — carefully and creatively constructed by hand. Addictively compelling, the cards reveal our deepest fears, desires, regrets, and obsessions. Frank calls them “graphic haiku,” beautiful, elegant, and small in structure but powerfully emotional.
As Frank began posting the cards on his website, PostSecret took on a life of its own, becoming much more than a simple art project. It has grown into a global phenomenon, exposing our individual aspirations, fantasies, and frailties — our common humanity.
Every day dozens of postcards still make their way to Frank, with postmarks from around the world, touching on every aspect of human experience. This extraordinary collection brings together the most powerful, personal, and beautifully intimate secrets Frank Warren has received — and brilliantly illuminates that human emotions can be unique and universal at the same time.