Register for the workshop HERE
Registration deadline: May 10th 2021

First MAYS Methods Workshop

We are announcing a call for participants for our first workshop in the MAYS Method Workshops Series – a workshop on ethnographic writing, that will take place on the 26th of May 2021. The Workshops Series aims to provide spaces for learning, discussion, structured debate, knowledge-sharing and mutual support leading up to our next 12th Annual MAYS Annual Meeting in Warsaw in August.

Michal Frumer, PhD student, Research Unit for General Practice & Aarhus University,
Sara M.H. Offersen, postdoctoral researcher, Research Unit for General Practice

MAYS Writing workshop: Building theory into ethnography // May 26th, 10 am to 1 pm CET

”In short, the question for me comes down to whether the ethnography is meant to illustrate a theoretical argument or whether theory might be built into the ethnography itself.” (Das 2015, 15).

Taking this cue from Veena Das, in this writing workshop we approach ethnographic writing as a craft to be cultivated, and as a form of writing that allows for rich storytelling that does not leave the ethnography behind in pursuit of theoretical abstractions. In this workshop, we propose to collaboratively explore how we tell specific stories to make theoretical arguments and think through the effects and politics of representational choices. Following recent takes on the topic (Stewart 2007, Hyde and Denyer Willis 2020, Das 2020), we suggest that the ethnographic grounding of anthropological writing can be enriched by slowing down the pace of our storytelling – that is slowing down our movements between ethnographic detail, general conditions, and theoretical abstractions – as we attune to the muddy and quotidian everyday lives of our interlocutors.

We invite participants that wish to enhance their writing sensibilities and participate in this workshop as a forum to engage, inspire, discuss, provoke, further one’s work, and encourage through a focus on “bringing life to ideas” (Strathern, cited in Narayan 2012, 15).


Das, Veena. 2015. Affliction Health, Disease, Poverty. New York: Fordham University Press.
Das, Veena. 2020. Textures of the Ordinary: Doing Anthropology after Wittgenstein. New York: Fordham University Press.
Hyde, Sandra Teresa, and Laurie Denyer Willis. 2020. “Balancing the Quotidian: Precarity, Care and Pace in Anthropology’s Storytelling.” Medical Anthropology 39 (4):297-304. doi: 10.1080/01459740.2020.1739673.
Narayan, Kirin. 2012. Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov: University Of Chicago Press.
Stewart, Kathleen. 2007. Ordinary affects. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Guidelines and Format

The workshop will take place on Zoom on the May 26th, 10am to 1 pm CET. The maximum number of participants is 12,  with enrolment on a first-come-first-served basis. Registration deadline is May 10th, go to registration link HERE (there is no confirmation of registration e-mail). The workshop participation is free of charge.

The workshop will take place on the 26th of May, 10 am to 1 pm CET. To ground our discussion of ethnographic writing, participants are required to write a preliminary assignment (2 pages + ½-page project background) on their own research to circulate beforehand. During the workshop, participants will be divided into 2 or 3 groups beforehand, depending on the number of submissions. Workshop convenors will be moderating group discussions within breakout rooms. Each assignment will also be allocated a discussant, however, all participants are expected to read all assignments in their group in order to be able to take part in joint discussions. This gives around 25 min for each for discussion and reflection upon feedback.

In the workshop we focus on “how to write”, but, looking forward, we hope to encourage setting up an international, virtual writing community focusing on “how to get writing done”.

Preliminary assignment for registered workshop participants

Choose any scene that dramatizes a theoretical issue or the tensions and puzzles central to your interests. This might be a situation, a person, a confrontation, a turning point, a formal event, an intensely elucidating interview, etc. Take us to the scene with vivid details – the people, the place, the pace of interaction, your presence. Use all your senses. Quote when you can. Don’t tell us what the theoretical issue is; for now, just give us a glimpse of social life in motion.

The version that you share with the workshop should fit into two pages (roughly 500-600 words), double spaced and in a 12-pt. font, with your name in a header. If you have extra words, you might be tempted to shrink fonts, juggle margins, etc. Please don’t. Revise and refine, evaluating the need and precision of each word until the piece fits exactly two pages. You might want to open a separate file where you store trimmed words for future inspiration.

Please submit the 2-page writing exercise with the ½-page project background to Michal Frumer ( by May 17 at 1 pm (central European time) so that all assignments can be circulated before we meet.

This collection of short pieces will help us all gain a sense of each other’s interests in advance. As you read each other’s work, take notes: What theme, in your opinion, is being illustrated here? What aspects of the writing are most compelling? How does the different representational choices affect your reading of the case?

Registration HERE
Deadline for Workshop Registration: May 10th, 2021

Deadline for the Assignment Submission: May 17th, 2021

Workshop Date: May 26th, 10 am to 1 pm, 2021