The Stories We’ve Told

The Stories We’ve Told

"It's not only a shameless ‘plug’ for our (open access) publication"

31-10-2023 · Column

Marija rubs the sleep from her eyes and puts the coffee on. She smokes a cigarette in the dark and smiles tiredly when she remembers that Stjepan should be returning today from his journey to the Far East.

“Can you fix it real quick?” Louis asks his friend Pim while clumsily attempting to join two pieces of a toy car racetrack together.

I am reclining on a chaise longue of sorts. When I know I have to come here, I try to make sure that my clothes and shoes won't clash with the electric blue cover.

The decolonisers were suddenly marching up my alley, protesting racist policies and structural inequalities.

These seemingly random quotes have more in common than it might appear at first glance. Each opens a vignette in a new anthology put together by 19 researchers at FASoS. Titled The Stories We Tell, the collection grew out of our desire to communicate our research in an accessible way to non-specialists. We used the techniques of creative writing to bring our research settings and subjects to life, and we had great fun along the way.

The diversity that emerged was astounding. Some contributors took us back in time to historical settings such as 1950s Yugoslavia, post-war Britain, and colonial India. Reading each others’ short pieces, we were transported into the heads of playing preschoolers, bored bureaucrats, crypto-criminals, Chinese pop fans, and nervous ethnographers wondering whether they’d got themselves in too deep. We endured dangerous bus rides, visited the dentist (and the toilet!) and wrote love letters to museums. We braided hair in Antwerp, watched shoes being made in Addis Ababa, and ate like queens and kings in the Italian Alps.

To read the collection for yourself, head over to But this month’s column is not only a shameless ‘plug’ for our (open access) publication. By spreading the word, we hope to involve other interested members of the UM community in future endeavors. Our experience so far shows that there’s a lot of unrealised creative potential around us; we’re excited to see where it might emerge next.

Elsje Fourie, assistant professor of Globalisation & Development Studies

Author: Redactie

Photo: archive EF

Tags: elsje fourie,creative writing,anthology stories

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