An ethnographer’s work is metaphorically embodied; eye for detail and ear for story, to start, are crucial to writing about culture. Elaine Lawless, MU Professor of Folklore Studies in the English Department, shows us that ethnography also requires heart and nerve. Heart allows scholars to listen empathically to the perspectives and opinions of the people being written about, enriching scholarship with insider perspective; nerve for advocating social change makes scholarship ever relevant to the service of humanity.
After she wrote about women in the pulpit, Dr. Lawless spent several months conducting ethnographic research in a domestic violence shelter.
When complete, the decision aid will be available in physicians’ offices, libraries, and other safe places where women can find and use it. Bloom’s study will monitor how often women use the interactive, individualized website as compared with a control group using a more static website, as well as document their exposures to violence and their mental health outcomes.
The new program is a revamped version of the original prototype that Bloom helped design in Oregon. With a high number of rural Missouri residents participating in the current project, Bloom is excited about the possibilities: “I hope we can show that this is particularly helpful for rural women who can’t get to other resources.”
With her background interest in women’s health, it was no surprise to find Carver collaborating with Elaine Lawless, MU Professor of English. After adapting some of the survivor stories for performance, in 2003 they formed the Troubling Violence Performance Project “to create a venue for people to communicate about intimate partner violence.” While they began performing stories from Lawless’ book, the stories soon emerged from elsewhere: “People starting coming up to us after the performances and asking if they could give us their stories,” many of which were then incorporated into subsequent performances. “If one out of every four women likely to suffer some kind of intimate partner abuse, then we need to really speak out. We don’t think we’re going to come in and perform and all violence is going to end. We just know that if people don’t talk about it…it’s going to be swept under the carpet.”