Antropologforeningens Podcast – Anthropological Happy Hour #2 Lotte Buch Segal and Thomas Brudholm
In this episode of Antropologforeningens Podcast – Anthropological Happy Hour you will meet Lotte Buch Segal, associate professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Copenhagen, who presents her monograph, published in 2016, called No Place for Grief – Martyrs, Prisoners, and Mourning in Contemporary Palestine.
Critical comments and questions are given by associate professor in the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at Copenhagen University, Thomas Brudholm.
The event was held on the 23rd of May 2018 in Ethnographic Exploratory at the University of Copenhagen.
We were lucky to catch Lotte for a brief interview on the process of writing No Place For Grief and concomitant becoming a scholar. Read along, if you want to learn more about Lotte’s work and the monograph presented in the podcast!
Interview with Lotte Buch
- How did you come about writing a monograph?
After writing a PhD thesis as an anthropologist, you are forced to make a decision: if you want to be a proper scholar there is one and only one gold standard: the monograph! If you want to stay within academia, you do it! When I defended my PhD thesis I was encouraged to embark on the journey of writing a monograph, and so I did!
- Which differences between writing a monograph and engaging in other academic endeavours have you come across?
Many of the chapters of a monograph have often been published as articles before – they go together, and are the same effort. But then again: It is not the same, because a book is more than the sum of the individual chapters. It is also a testimony of the kind of scholarship that you, as an anthropologist, make. It is the lever to a particular community of scholars. The way in which you write your monograph will stay with you always as a scholar, because some people will think the world of it because of its genre, and others will find it unimportant because it does not fit their preferences. It becomes extremely important what book you write, much more than I knew, when I wrote it. It is your identity, how you present your scholarship to others – both outside and inside academia.
- Can you sum up then, what kind of anthropologist you are?
I am an anthropologist with a particular interest in the details of intimacy between people. I also strive to come as close as I possibly can to the inside of relationships and to the people who are in them. It is an inside out form of anthropology that I practice, where a lot of other forms of anthropology would go from outside in. And that is also where my work perhaps speaks to other audiences than only an anthropological one.
- Can you point to an especially inspiring experience during the fieldwork underpinning your monograph?
There are many! I think that a book is always the result of cutting immense and important data away. You cannot have everything in the book, but the cases in the chapters have altogether been important to me. To connect to your former question, relating to what kind of scholar I am, I want to draw forth a case from the conclusion of the book.
I write about an incident during my fieldwork. There was an invasion of the Gaza Strip, but we were in the west bank. When things happen in Gaza, people are extremely frustrated in the West Bank because they cannot go and help – they are not allowed to go in there, and they feel caught in an epitome of powerlessness. An invasion like this one is an occasion to go on the streets and demonstrate in order for the Palestinians outside of Gaza to at least show the people in Gaza, that they care!
So I was in the west bank and had a dinner appointment with an interlocutor. My assistant insisted that we went and participated in the demonstration to show our support to the people in Gaza, and I felt obliged, since it is especially expected from foreigners to take part in the demonstrations. But I took the call, and said “no – we are going to the woman who cooked lunch for us in the village.” The reason I am telling this story, is because it encapsulates the entire problem I am writing about – that the small acts, gestures of cares, the desolation and the loneliness, grief that these women feel, of not belonging in the political narrative, was so clear! Showing the woman that I cared as much about her lunch and hour less effort as the “important” political demonstration, is basically also what I try to do with the whole book! Showing: You are important! Your life of cooking meals, caring for kids, grieving – is important!
- Which type of impact are you hoping that your monograph will have?
I hope that the people who read it get a feeling of having encountered some lives that they did not even know existed before. I also hope that when they read, this will open their eyes to look beyond politics proper. And so when they open the television the next time and turn their gaze away from the news, that they will have some knowledge about how the lives of the shadow of a conflict actually is, because that is what matters the most. Events happen and pass, but the everyday lives persist – very different though from the everyday lives as we know them in e.g. Denmark. If I can open people’s eyes to these other worlds, perhaps just make people attend a little more to them, then I think I have accomplished a lot. As a scholar, I think my impact is greatest in my teaching.
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