What happens, if a true senior Polish sailor, Jerzy Tyszko, and an ethnographer of Polish sailing culture, Hannah Wadle, embark on a fictive journey together? The ethnofiction logbook of their search for the hidden sailing tribe in the Masurian Lake District is a creative adventure and an honest conversation about the peculiarities, myths, and changes in contemporary Masurian and Polish Sailing culture. The book is in preparation and will be available in Summer 2018.
With this FairerTales experimental, conversational ethnofiction project, we aim to engage broader audiences in contemporary anthropological research and begin a conversation about post-socialist tourism cultures and communities. A book website is in preparation. Read more about theoretical reflections on the project here:
Strengthening a Liminal Community. Anthropological Framework for Rethinking University Support Strategies for Early Career Researchers and PhD Students.
FairerTales Retreats for Academics evolved as a result of a strategic report (download report as pdf) that Hannah Wadle from FairerTales authored after an ethnographic short study. The report creates an understanding of the complex situation of young Researchers through the anthropological concept of “Liminality”, of living betwixt-and-between, in limbo, on the threshhold. Liminality is used to explain aspects of the negative experiences of precarious lives in a situation of very liminted job prospects and complex life transitions. Liminality is however also employed to draw attention to Liminal Thinking Capacity (LTC) and intellectual creativity as the essence of the academic and research profession and to demand its protection and appropriate valuing.
The report further proposes solutions about how to improve the lives of PhD students and Early Career Researchers. This is done by a proposition of tailored support programmes and networks for researchers during and after the PhD, through structural interventions in institutional frameworks, through a changeing value discourse about academic practices and the concept of the “researcher”, and through the creation of a political body representing the interests of ECRs. The report was developed for the University of Manchester as part of an AHRC-funded Public Engagement Fellowship.
Residential Workshops for PhD Students
“Building a Strong Doctoral Community”
What does it mean to be part of the academic community for me, for us? How do we want to belong, where do we see our place? What relationships do we aspire to with our colleagues. For the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership and the University of Manchester, FairerTales designs workshops for first year doctoral students. We helped them to establish their own terms for being academic peers by letting them design and perform their own initiation rite into the PhD journey.
“Thank you for the opportunity to make us grow, feel bigger, and get over fears!” (Participant of “Building a Strong Doctoral Community”, Nov 2016)
“Thanks for forcing me not to be cynical!” (Participant of “Building a Strong Doctoral Community”, Nov 2016)
“I have received great enthusiasm from this cohort to support me in organising the conference in Liverpool this October. I usually have to twist arms to get a couple of students to help, but this year I had 10 volunteers, all from that group of 1styear students! They seem to get on well and are extremely motivated. Same with student reps etc…This is such a shift in mentality from what I have seen in the previous cohorts. So we definitely want to do this again” Carole Douguedroit-Arrowsmith, Graduate Administrator at the University of Manchester.
Residential Workshops for Early Career Researchers
“So you’re a Doctor now!?”
We worked with Early Career Researchers, who, after finishing their PhDs often face a challenging moment of insecurity. In our residential we gave them a platform for exploring their fears, re-discovering their strengths, and finding a shared voice to express their concerns on an institutional level.
“It made us all reflect about how overcome the challenges of being the grey zone of ECR.” (Participant of “So you’re a Doctor now?!”, Manchester, July 2016)
“It was really good to meet people with similar experience to mine.” (Participant of “So you’re a Doctor now?!”, Manchester, July 2016)
“I was aware about the problems. The most revealing thing was the scale of negative emotions regarding post-doc process.” (Participant of “So you’re a Doctor now?!”, Manchester, July 2016)
“It gave a different perspective on the topic.” (Participant of “So you’re a Doctor now?!”, Manchester, July 2016).
In January 2017, produced the first FairerTales Winter Writing Retreat for Researchers (download brochure as a pdf). We set it up as a safe space, in which academic writers can develop their ideas, find peer-support, and take time for well-being practices. In a climate of creative, intellectual freedom, mutual support, wholesome meals, and structured well-being elements such as yoga, walks or sauna. the retreat supports researches to learn the practices of Liminal Thinking Capacity. The next retreat for 2018 is in preparation.
“The writing workshop was incredibly well thought through from start to finish. From the Polish castle by a frozen lake, to the roaring fires and a private drawing room, to the pool, sauna and ping pong table. Choosing a January midweek slot gave us the place to ourselves which felt quite a privilege. Hannah is multi-talented and looked after our spiritual health with yoga, our writing schedule with a clear daily structure and our nutrition with regular healthy snacks.
It was lovely to share ideas and insights with thoughtful colleagues as well as laugh about life in academia. We certainly put the world to rights. I finished a paper, a book proposal, the first chapter of a new fictional book and wrote the lyrics of a song that Hannah put to music. My creative thinking warmed up and truly flowed. It feels like a floodgate has opened! Thanks Hannah. Thanks to my writing buddy Lina as well who also made it a very special experience.” Dr Jess Symons, University of Manchester.
Collaborative Writing Retreat
An AHRC-funded working group of researchers from three different UK Higher Education Institution invited FairerTales to facilitate their writing retreat, a part of their shared project. During the retreat, they worked on connecting and developing their ideas around the themes of community, the learning city, and community-led learning. The FairerTales focus was helping the three researchers to think about modes of academic collaboration, to re-visit their mutual expectations, and establish shared goals. Furthermore, FairerTales kept track of developing ideas, protocoled them, mediated the discussion, and structured the workflow on the retreat. And we also did some of the catering for the group, providing a healthy picnic lunch and a comforting mushroom risotto.
The exhibition project “Chronicler of our Dreams. The Manor of Sztynort 1947-2017” and the related cultural initiative stnort.org are part of a FairerTales research project and a collaboration with the Technical University of Dresden. Based on oral history interviews, participants observation, and archival research, the exhibition presents visitors with the socialist and post-socialist history of the manor. It invites them to view the heritage-site-in-the-making and place of speculative investment in a different light. The Socialist and post-socialist histories of manor buildings are often neglected stories, they are seen as less prestigious than the gentrified, aristocratic past of manor buildings. And yet – they equally involve people’s lives and their biographies. They tell about alternative visions of what purposes palaces could have. This why it was important to us to tell this story. Future exhibitions about other layers of history of the manor are in the planning stage.
Cultural Initiative Stn:ort
The cultural initiative Stn:ort pursues the immediate activation of the manor as a space for cultural and social encounters in its present, dilapidated state. We believe that the space, in its vulnerable, weathered state is a beautiful setting for creative, experimental encounters and community participation. We organise creative interventions such as our creative week in August 2017: in that week we engaged visitors of the manor in making “Dreamcatchers for the awakening manor”, creating a big installation of all of them (over 80) in the foyer of the manor of Sztynort. The creative week also included cooking a stew according to the original recipe by the head chef of the socialist holiday cantina in the manor, and re-performing the holiday colony morning roll call routine and opposing it with a yoga routine.
The FairerTales activities in Sztynort are part of an engaged ethnographic long-term study about transforming tourism and heritage landscapes in the Masurian Lakes District that Hannah Wadle has been conducting since 2009. Her publication about the subject concern processes of transnational heritage making, the encounter with social inequality, and the negotiation of competing visions of tourism development in the area. Here is a selection of publications.
H. Wadle (forthcoming 2018) Pałac-in-progress. Re-imagining Landed Estates in Post-East-Prussian, Post-Socialist Tourism Landscapes of Northeast Poland. In: Tourism and Architecture: Fictions, Virtualities, Simulacras. Ed. by Maria Gavari-Barbas, Nelson Graburn, Francois Staszak
Schabe, P. and H. Wadle (2017) Schloss Steinort (Sztynort). Geschichte und Erhaltung. (The manor of Steinort (Sztynort) History and Preservation). Festschrift der Deutsch-Polnischen Stiftung für Kulturpflege und Denkmalschutz. Ed. by Peter Schabe and Guido Hinterhäuser, pp. 153-185.
H. Wadle (2016) Encountering Tourism in the Masurian Lake District: Locating the Moral Self in the New Rural Poland. In: Journal for Tourism and Cultural Change, Special Issue: “Tourism in Postsocialist Central and Eastern Europe”. Ed. by Magdalena Banaszkiewicz and Nelson Graburn.
Verschaeve, M. and H. Wadle (2014) Tourism and Post-Socialist Heterotopias: Eastern Europe as an Imagined Rural Past. In: Tourism and the Power of Otherness. Seductions of Difference. Ed. by David Picard and Michael Di Giovine, pp. 74-94.
H. Wadle (2012) From fragments of place intimacy towards a concept of performative German-Polish Cultural Heritage. Ethnographic Close-ups of the manor of Sztynort/Steinort [orig.: Von Fragmenten der Ortsintimität zu einem Konzept des performativen deutsch-polnischen Kulturerbes. Ethnographische Nahaufnahmen von Schloss Sztynort/Steinort]. In: Deutsch-Polnisches Kulturerbe und die Zivilgesellschaft im heutigen Polen. Ed. by Paul Zalewski and Joanna Drejer, pp. 142-159.
In 2016 and 2017 we co-created parade costumes, centre piece, and choreography with Polish residents of Manchester for their contribution to Manchester Day Parade, Manchester’s biggest city event. We work for Walk the Plank and Europia Manchester. The central idea of Manchester Day Parade is to develop community and artists alongside one another, and to get them to work together. In 2016, FairerTales co-created the theme “Science marries Folklore. A village wedding for Nikolaus Copernicus and Marie Sklodowska-Curie”. This included designing and making the centre piece and sewing costumes for 30 participants. The work was supported by Ruta Stasieviciute.
The topic for Manchester Day Parade 2017 was “Abracadabra”. After a community brainstorming session, Hannah Wadle from FairerTales, and collaborating artist Ruta Stasieviciute developed the theme “Rush Hour Reverie – When Wilderness Reconquered the City” for Europia Manchester. Ruta took on the development of an extraordinary centre piece, a tree that was emerging out of a car.
Hannah from FairerTales, meanwhile, was responsible for the costume design. She designed two sets of costumes that showed a transformation from urban street life to mystical forest life, as implied by the theme. Road workers that turned into moths by lining up in pairs and flicking their road sign, and business beasts – wild, vegetative creatures that emerged from inside business suits. The costumes and their roles were performed with a music mix and a choreography that we created together with choreographer and dancer Trixabelle Bold.