Note: We are seeking Cornell University affiliated (students, faculty and staff) contributors only! 

(Submissions are closed, please see the Excerpts page and Events page for more information)

“Whispers from the Field: Ethnographic Poetry and Creative Prose” will make a splash as an innovative aural, visual and interactive anthropological and literary project that traverses the bounds of academia to reach a broader audience—featuring original ethnographic poetry and creative prose by Cornell University researchers and students, presented and performed in a chapbook, visual display and reading event.

The interactive and multilayered project offers a startling glance into the world of researchers as they step into and immerse in their field. The three-part publication, display and reading challenges the academic voice to elicit the charged, affective responses in entering the fieldwork space, providing an inside look into the everyday ethnographic experience. It seeks to capture the creative outbursts that do not fall easily into the world of academia publications and conference presentations—through the expressive forms of literary print, display and reading.

“Whispers from the Field” aims to present this leaping mind (and body), one that traverses bounds and into new spheres. The ethnographic poetry and creative prose will be published in print in a chapbook, to be handed out during readings and (limited copies) available to the public, a material object preserving the words so that they can live again afresh at every re-reading. The creative works will be accompanied by an ethnographic statement providing contextual background to the literary piece, educating the public about crucial topics and granting penetrating insight and analyses in the fields of anthropology, sociology, history, economics, urban studies, science and technology studies and beyond.

The project also entails components that aurally and visually excite: a placard display in the arts quad lawn in November 2018 to ignite the viewers’ imaginations and educate them on cultural and social issues across the world.

“Whispers from the Field” also culminates in a poetry/creative prose reading in November 2018 to be held on Cornell campus tentatively in the Big Red Barn open to the public and all—to bring out the ethnographer as a participant observation and a performer, one whose presence and position can be felt, heard and interpreted.

We are seeking Cornell University affiliated (students, faculty and staff) contributors only!

This project is funded by a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts.



About the Lead Editor/Project Organizer:

Annie Sheng is the lead editor and organizer of this three-part ethnographic creative project. Annie is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University (and recipient of the Cornell Council for the Arts (CCA) award for this project). Selected creative works from submissions will be published alongside a small selection of her own ethnographic poems (as expressed in the 2018-2019 CCA project proposal).


Photos by Eutah Mizushima and Aziz Acharki