There’s a time after a long fieldwork, which has always to me been a sort of lost time. What goes on is neither “collection of data,” nor “publishing”. It is difficult to count and account for it, and it is important. There is an invisible processing that goes on, in which the fieldwork material takes on a shape begins to make sense in an academic context. What actually happened? What was important here? What kinds of writing might come of this? A time to seek out inspiration and perhaps return to old knowings in new light.
In August I attended the Mega Seminar, the biannual conference for Danish Anthropologists as a kind of exiled member of the tribe. The conference theme was The End, leading to discussions on both how the people we work with live through and understand different kinds of endings, as well as the seemingly always imminent End of Anthropology as a discipline.
The following week I returned to Moesgård in Århus to meet with the transdisciplinary and international research group around Urban Orders. The project has set out to develop new ways of working with complex urban problems with a focus on what we have called urban orders - "a dynamic regularity in the relationship between social life in the city and its physical environment, which has emerged without overall coordination, control or use of force". The URO group has held four URO labs, and I was involved in organizing the first Lab in Århus, two years ago. Returning to URO sparks inspiration for my current work the MediAfrica project, both on how to understand the context of motherhood in one of the most unequal cities in the world, and on how to collaborate and write together with other researchers.
Thinking about past and future projects with colleagues opened new doors in my heart and my mind, igniting the desire to start writing about the stories and experiences I have taken with me from South Africa.