Anthropology and the misery of writing
We have had much excited talk about experimental ethnography and new genres of writing. Much of it acknowledges the difficulties of putting words to page. But few of the many reflections and meditations about ethnography really delve into the self-destroying anxiety and misery that can accompany writing in anthropology and across the humanities. That many of us—from graduate students to tenured professors—have suffered bad, sometimes career-ending trouble with writing is a public secret. I draw on my own struggle with writing and depression to try to make some sense of why desperation and worse related to writing are so relatively commonplace in anthropology today—and whether there's anything we can do about it.
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