Ethnography is not a memoir. But, Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir is an inspiration for writers of ethnography. Memoir turns on writing about oneself, while the ethnographer should rarely be the central core of an ethnographic monograph. Karr’s gem of a book nevertheless shows how to develop a voice and thus avoid bugaboos common in academese. Her eleven tips for dealing with real people would help anyone thinking about ethical writing. The liberties to truth commonly taken by memoirists are thought provoking for those concerned with veracity. Reading voraciously is a hallmark of a great writer, which makes her reading list an inspiration. Karr has taught memoir writing for decades, and written two successful memoirs: (The Liars' Club: A Memoir, Lit: A Memoir (P.S.)).
I research economic and environmental anthropology and resource extraction in Colombia and New Brunswick. This is my personal blog.