Short-Term Scientific Mission Blog: Field Notes

Action number: CA21120

Grantee name: Ana Belén Martínez García

Details of the STSM:

Title: Cross-Border Interdisciplinary Study of ID Regimes in the Iberian Peninsula

Start and end date: 15/05/2023 to 20/05/2023

Day 1: The morning before leaving home, I downloaded materials on Spanish migration trends, historical and policy relevant data, paying attention to agencies and associations involved. A list of bibliography was compiled, also about my own framework, testimonial narratives and ethical witnessing, thinking of the potential future collaborations within the Iberian peninsula, e.g. analysing common patterns in status management, border control or migrant activism, and beyond. I also decided to keep a field journal with notes for the duration of the STSM and to tweet at regular intervals with the highlights of each day (@AnaBMartinezG). 

Day 2: Liz and I met at beautiful Gulbenkian Museum Gardens to go over strategies common to Portuguese and Spanish city council interventions and ethical problems involved in mediating vulnerability and sharing life stories. I explained what “life writing”, also known as “life narrative”, is and can do to redress injustice, especially committed against those most vulnerable, such as children and women. 

Day 3: I met my Portuguese colleagues at this COST Action (most from my same Working Group, WG5: Human Stories for Humane Reactions, though not all) at the first-ever Lisbon Exploratory Meeting held at FLUL, the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Lisbon. This highly intensive, thought-provoking meeting, served to identify common interests and exchange methods as varied as oral history, ethnography, anthropology of the state, narrative interviews, shadowing, social work initiatives, pedagogical activities (including anti-fake news materials) in schools and for wider audiences, surveys, focus groups, narrative empathising techniques, online/offline media analysis, and life-narrative close reading. We also discussed potential contributions towards our presentation/s at the annual meeting in Maynooth, and I invited them to think of a potential special issue we could start putting together with arts-based outputs as carriers of migrant stories and empathy. 

Day 4: In the morning I visited the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences at Universidade NOVA de Lisboa. I met with the PI (principal investigator) and co-PI (my host) of an EU project application which could be compatible with HIDDEN, a Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Programme (CERV) consortium bid on women migrants’ life narratives and how turning their stories into a virtual travelling museum that might travel across borders and be accompanied by in-person events and workshops might raise awareness about everyday life practices and facilitate mutual understanding in southern European countries as well as prevent gender and racial stereotypes. 

In the afternoon I gave a guest lecture on my book New Forms of Self-Narration (Palgrave, 2020) hosted by the Centre for research in anthropology (CRIA – NOVA FCSH)

Day 5: In the morning I shared bibliography with participants in the various events. Then in the afternoon I did some city exploring of my own, true to what I’ve learned over my postdoctoral research stays in London, to think-and-talk. It was great to have the time to do so. 

Day 6: I travelled home. An airport strike of border control threatened to pose some risk but delay was minimal. I got to Pamplona at 8pm in the evening, safely home 30 minutes later. My mind is still reeling with so much I have learned and reflected on over the past week. So many ideas that we surely need to keep discussing and collaborating on jointly. Academic work is too much of a solitary activity. It is such a joy to be able to meet and share what we do, why we do it, and perhaps find new alternative ways of moving forward!