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Ethnographic and Scientific Storytelling Summer in Amsterdam Program Summer 2024 Early July 2-Week - Amsterdam

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Ethnographic and Scientific Storytelling

Ethnographic and Scientific Storytelling Course Overview


CEA CAPA Partner Institution: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Primary Subject Area: Anthropology
Instruction in: English
Transcript Source: Partner Institution
Course Details: Level 300
Recommended Semester Credits: 3
Contact Hours: 50


Why do stories matter to academics, scientists and scholars? Do they just ?collect? stories, or do they ?tell? stories? This course takes a close look at stories and storytelling within the academic framework by introducing students to anthropological methodologies such as ethnographic observation-participation and sensory ethnography (visual, haptic and auditory). In other words, the course discusses how storytelling and story-listening are modes of scientific communication with the world that is studied and analysed. The course stresses ethnography, not in the form of ?studying? the world as an otherness but rather, students are invited to reflect on their own positions, how their backgrounds, ways of seeing, sensing and being shapes stories. During the course, students will meet academics, activists, journalists, and refugee scholars who shall share their stories and students will learn from their storytelling. Accordingly, students conduct a mini-fieldwork, practice storytelling and deliver a story essay as their final submission.

It is difficult to argue with the simple principle of ?stories matter?, but then the question is how to tell ethnographic stories and encourage social sciences to remain faithful to those who share their stories with us. What is the role of ethnographers, fieldworkers, and story collectors in the formation of stories? How can we experiment with language, images, imaginations, and thoughts to tell scientifically valid stories? We trace the challenges of ethnographic storytelling in this course in three levels:
1. What is a story? What do stories tell? How do we write them?
2. What are methods/techniques/methodologies to collect them?
3. How a storyteller or a story collector become part of their story?

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Think through research methods and crafting styles in scientific inquiry
- Develop fieldwork skills and strengthening skills in culturally sensitive research and analysis
- Take steps toward collaborative storytelling and digital-visual narrative-making

Students who conduct fieldwork and collect narratives, as well as interviews for their research, are well familiar with the troublesome task of turning the collected data into academically appealing stories. The course guides the student to learn how to think of ethnographic methods and form a scientific inquiry in collaboration with interlocutors, informants and civil society activists. This course is hands-on, which means students are encouraged to think and practice the lectures through mini-fieldwork and storytelling.

Students of social sciences, cultural studies, social work, Law and business administration with an interest in fieldwork, ethnography and interviews learn how to utilize accessible their own life-experience and background for sharing their research and stories from the field. The course concentrates on how ethnographers and researchers are integrated and embedded in the process of their creative writing and storytelling.

Advised Reading:
- Storytelling: Restorative Approaches to Post-2003 Iraq Peacebuilding
- The Sociology of Storytelling
- The battle of truth and fiction: Documentary storytelling and Middle Eastern refugee discourse
- ?Storytelling? Natural Resource Conflict on U.S. Public Lands
- True life, real lives: Revisiting the boundaries between ethnography and fiction
- Ethnography as magical realism and the discovery of the ordinary
- Ethnography, reflexivity, knowledge

The course requires the active participation of students, and classes are divided into learning and practice sessions. Students learn methods and storytelling in the first half of the class, and then they practice and present their learning in the form of an interactive workshop outside the classroom or in interaction with civil society activists, journalists and refugees (the combination of our guest speakers differs every year according to their availability).

Contact hours listed under a cou

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