Author's introduction to Better Alive Than Dead, a short story that appears in Greater Portland Scribists:
I'm a folklorist, which is an anthropologist intrigued by his own culture. I've read a lot of ethnographies, so many that at times I think in ethnographic paper-ese... In writing a spec fiction flipping the Southern US racial picture, I invented ethnographic details to make two imaginary African peoples come alive. One day, rereading, I discovered I had created two entirely different sets of funeral customs for the same group. Not good. Bad. To cope with this problem (and possibly others I had yet to notice), I called on Zhu Xi-feng, an equally imaginary grad student from U Shanghai, to do a thorough ethnography of the black Belanti and the white Kwenu. He is Chinese because he needs to be an outsider to both peoples. Quite thorough, his paper gave me a solid ethnographic foundation for my novel. But like any good fictional character, Zhu Xi-feng took on life and began to do his own thinking. And like any anthropologist, Mr. Zhu (as the Kwenu call him) at first saw what his subjects wanted him to see. Eventually, he saw what was really going on—as some but not all anthropologists do—and what he saw terrified him. Better Alive Than Dead is not Zhu's ethnography, which would have been his dissertation and probably quite deadly, but one of those papers grad students publish in anthropological journals the year they receive their degree. These often relate personal experiences that started their study. — Robin Hansen
Excerpt from Jamie Alan Belanger, editor, “Essential GPS: A Scribings Special Edition.” (LOST LUGGAGE STUDIOS, 2016): iBooks. https://itun.es/us/tauA_.
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