Anthropologists Writing: The Fall 2015 Writers’ Workshop Essay Series

It is my pleasure to announce the fourth (and final) season of our Writers’ Workshop series. Each Monday we will share a new essay reflecting on some aspect of the writing process. We invite you to follow along, and to make these essays part of your weekly writing rituals. This fall we have a fantastic group of contributors:

September 14—Kim Fortun, “To Fieldwork, To Write”

September 21—Daniel Goldstein, “Real Writing”

September 28—Sasha Su-Ling Welland, “List as Form: Literary, Ethnographic, Long, Short, Heavy, Light”

October 12—Paul Tapsell, “The Anthropology of Being (Me)”

October 19—Carole McGranahan, “Anthropology as Theoretical Storytelling”

October 26—Carla Jones, “A Case for Agitation: On Affect and Writing”

November 2—Katerina Teaiwa, “Unscholarly Confessions on Reading”

November 9—Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, “Ethnographic Poetry and the Leaping Bilingual Mind”

November 16—Ieva Jusionyte, “Writing in and from the Field”

November 23—Gastón Gordillo, “The Ruination of Written Words”

November 30—Bhrigupati Singh, “Writing with Love and Hate”

December 7—Barak Kalir, “Writing as Cognition”

December 14—Stuart McLean, “Frogtopia Revisited, or Anthropology is Art is Frog”

December 23–Sara Gonzalez, “Writing with Community”

The Savage Minds Writers’ Workshop series launched in January 2014. We’ve had three successful seasons with thirty-two contributors writing across topics, genres, subdisciplines, and concerns of all sorts. All of these essays are available here for reading (or re-reading as the case may be):

Spring 2014—Gina Athena Ulysse, Kirin Narayan, Sienna Craig, Bianca Williams, Kristen Ghodsee, Zoë Crossland, Robin Bernstein, Michael Ralph, Matt Sponheimer, and myself

Fall 2014—Paul Stoller, Noel B. Salazar, Marnie Thomson, Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Mary Murrell, Roxanne Varzi, Adia Benton, Ghassan Hage, Siva Venkateswar, Catherine Besteman, and Kevin Carrico

Spring 2015—Ruth Behar, Chelsi West, Anne Claus, Alan Kaiser, Anand Pandian, Jane Eva Baxter, Michael Lambek, Sarah Besky, Yarimar Bonilla, Donna Goldstein, and Jess Falcone

We already know that all anthropologists write. This series is designed to get beyond the instrumental aspects of writing, and to think of the craft of writing, to think of anthropologists as writers regardless of the genre in which they write. We are in good company in this effort, and yet there is more work to be done, more questions to be asked about prose and style, about non-formulaic writing for journals, about writing in different languages, about finding the time to write, and more.

writing books


Second only to the tip to have a consistent writing practice and to write every day, is the suggestion to find community in one’s writing. Many academics, and probably most cultural anthropologists, have solitary writing practices. We write alone and yet we need feedback, encouragement, and conversation about our writing. Some are lucky to have regular in-person writing groups with whom they can share their writings, and others find such community online. If you are looking for online community, here are some to try: Shut Up and Write Tuesdays: A virtual writing workshop for academic folks, #GetYourManuscriptOut on Twitter, Alan Klima’s Academic Muse website, and for the entire month of November: AcWriMo or Academic Writing Month.

If what you want and need doesn’t exist, create it. Find the kindred spirits who inspire you, or perhaps those not-so-kindred ones who generate a different kind of writing energy for you. Either way, may the essays in this series be a good resource for thinking your writing anew.

Welcome all, and thank you in advance to our authors.




Carole McGranahan

I am an anthropologist and historian of Tibet, and a professor at the University of Colorado. I conduct research, write, lecture, and teach. At any given time, I am probably working on one of the following projects: Tibet, British empire, and the Pangdatsang family; the CIA as an ethnographic subject; contemporary US empire; the ongoing self-immolations in Tibet; the Chushi Gangdrug resistance army; refugee citizenship in the Tibetan diaspora (Canada, India, Nepal, USA); and, anthropology as theoretical storytelling.