Ethnographic Shorts

A blog of flash ethnography, based on interview and participant-observation work around Worthing, a seaside town in West Sussex, England.  

Flash fiction – micro-stories or sawn-off tales.
Ethnography –  writing about culture.  What anthropologists do.
Flash-ethnography – a format.  Micro-ethnographic moments turning around a specific question or issue.

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  • Chatting Creativity & Thriving – With Independent Worthing
    While there is a familiar shared trajectory to the gentrification and regeneration process, there can be many missed opportunities to intervene and shape the (inevitable) process of change in positive and inclusive ways.
  • Chatting Creativity & Thriving – With Independent Worthing
    Things were getting nasty. Anyone opening the fridge door would find me right behind them, reminding them that, “Those are the only olives we have”, or “I was planning on using that mozzarella on a home-made pizza tomorrow”. I wasn’t exactly hiding the chickpeas, but I did count the tins every morning.
  • Shitty Crafts
    After going all un-Boomer ish last post and plastering my personal life all over the blog, which has had great positive responses, I thought I’d do a quick share of something I got into over lockdown, which began as something of a time-pass and then turned into both a kind of mindfulness practice and alsoContinue reading “Shitty Crafts”
  • Queer Love in the Time of Covid (Part 2 of 2)
    A Sussex lockdown queer wedding. Blending some old and well-known traditions with Celtic spirituality and a nod to church roots worked. And at no point did it ever feel like ‘Sheilaism’ (the term Robert Bellah famously used for describing the contemporary fall from traditional religion and rituals and into an utterly individualistic solipsistic pick-and-mix contemporary state of ‘spiritual but not religious’). The celebrant reminded us Boomers how far we’ve come since our teens, when ‘gay wedding’ was preposterous blasphemy. Keep an open mind.  Allow the unexpected into your life.
  • Queer Love in the Time of Covid (Part 1 of 2)
    On one of our weekend lockdowns, at a Worthing hotel (where we drive just 10 minutes up the road once every few weeks, to get away from domestic life and the over-familiarity of home) I asked. Shocked, she responded, “thank you”.  We both laughed at the response and at the thrill of making something good happen in the middle of all the horror around us. The older you get, the more you understand the cosmic complex truth that, somehow, when the house is burning down, remembering to laugh and to dance is important.
  • Who’s Living Nextdoor?
    A chaotic mix of entrepreneurial hustle, neighbourly compassion, lost pets, reports about traffic, queues and crowds, curiosity about roadworks or wildlife species spotted- and a fair bit of baiting and toxic trouble-stirring. Lockdown has intensified both the volume of traffic and the emotional charge.
  • Dancing Towards An Inclusive Worthing
    Lindyhop is all about free expression and getting into the music. When you look at absolute beginners and very advanced dancers, they look very similar… Programmes like ‘Strictly’ don’t help. Amanda and I resist the temptation right there to do a ‘deplorable things about Strictly’ talk.
  • The Rough, Rough, Really Bloody Rough Guide to Worthing.
    WoBy is not going to invite you to ‘get involved’; you live here, you already are involved. Write something about Worthing. Or send an image about it.
  • A Breath of Fresh Air?
    One man kept backtracking as he remembered things the family might need in case of shortages – “sorry, sorry”, he kept apologising, unaware in those days of magic hand-sanitiser that his outbreath and loud ‘sorry’ could itself be a vector for spread.
  • Epic Fail for Dry January? Daytime Drinking in Lockdown? Too Much Toking Going On? No Worries (Part Four)
    From the consumer point of view, frankly, one six-foot tall and beefy 20 year old’s session is likely a five-foot skinny 50 year old’s downfall, so you have to take this ‘session’ concept a bit personally
  • Epic Fail for Dry January? Daytime Drinking in Lockdown? Too Much Toking Going On? No Worries (Part Three)
    Dry January feels like a sticking plaster on a gaping wound. For society. Even at a personal level. I remember I had all my friends round the house on day 30, and they rolled a foot-long and I remember feeling sick and thinking – well, that was pointless, that whole month.
  • Epic Fail for Dry January? Daytime Drinking in Lockdown? Too Much Toking Going On? No Worries (Part Two)
    What do you feel about the AA-style sobriety (or even ‘hip sobriety’) as opposed to the ‘mindful drinking’ approach? I’ll never climb a mountain, but I’ll get up Cissbury Ring alright.
  • Epic Fail for Dry January? Daytime Drinking in Lockdown? Too Much Toking Going On? No Worries (Part One)
    An Alcohol Free Drinks Party My neighbour breezes into the kitchen with a posh looking bottle, glasses, a shaker and snacks, which she sets up on the island*. Whoa, what’s this? – it’s only 3 o’clock. (She thinks I’m one of those work-from-homers who don’t know how to discipline their daytimes?) She grins. You’re interestedContinue reading “Epic Fail for Dry January? Daytime Drinking in Lockdown? Too Much Toking Going On? No Worries (Part One)”
  • The Floral Alternative
    They gave me a generic poinsettia-ful Christmas centrepiece with a dirty (and elderly) carrot plonked on top. And I paid up and meekly took it home.
  • New Decade, New Worthing
    We came over to Worthing to look around for nice places, but really, we just needed an excuse – we’d chosen. What’s missing from Worthing? I don’t think anything. It doesn’t need to be like anywhere else. It’s got everything that a place needs.
  • My Blue, Blue Heart (Part Two)
    Weedkiller-spraying and care for the environment make the strangest of bedfellows, don’t they?
  • My Blue, Blue, Heart (Part One)
    Letting Go Of The Lawn We never realised wielding a rotivator would be so heavy. We took turns, and I realised as I struggled to keep my lines following hers – this is why they have ploughing competitions; it truly is a tough skill. We had to do it twice before we got rid ofContinue reading “My Blue, Blue, Heart (Part One)”
  • A Deeper Love?
    I’m 19 and still working through what it left me with. I think it’s gonna take time to get rid of the self-hate. People who are straight often see high school as the best years of their life, but if you’re gay, it’s the worst. Still now.
  • “Drummer – Got Me Own Hair and Teeth”
    Stan reckons the high street has been killed by internet shopping – and the council.
  • “We’d Never Even Heard of Worthing”
    To be clear, this is not a head shop, and they don’t want to be confused with a traditional drug paraphernalia shop (as Nicole puts it). They’re seeing themselves very much as a dispensary.
  • No hot towel shave or prosecco blow dry at gender-neutral Tidy Penguin
    Keep your bloody prosecco and just cut my hair, seems to be the contemporary woman’s stand.
  • The Past Was Better? Only Because I Was Young Then.
    Most people do live precariously. You only need a couple of upsets and anyone could end up there. Anyone. People seem to live in ignorance of this fact.
  • Up The Hill (With Companions)
    The lure of OOdles is no mystery. Neoteny and its appeal make biological anthropologists smirk at puppy-love.
  • Symbol & Ritual Among the Worthingites
    As any anthropologist will tell you – all traditions are invented.
  • The Consolations of Worthing Central. Part Two
    Sod terroir and its restrictive snobbery: we have Sussex qvevri, yes we bloody do.
  • Tom’s Pairings for Pie and Ale (and other couplings).
    If you’ve got a match challenge for Tom, mail it in – or pop in to see him. Christmas is over and he’ll not be wearing the scary cat jumpers now.
  • The Consolations of Worthing Central. Part One
    Did you choose old-fashioned steak-and-kidney or a bougie steak-and-stilton? Mushroom-asparagus? Humble beef-and-onion, perhaps? Maybe you went wild and bought steak, mushroom and truffle? Did you, did you? And did you also buy gravy? And – (Granny! Don’t listen!) – ready-made mash?
  • Fighting – With A Narrative
      Splashpoint. Monday Morning, 10am. Lauren briskly swags in and sets up, no nonsense. Smiles at us all, asks us if we’re ready. Gets the music blasting and we all follow her lead and raise our fists, bounce on our toes, try to zone in. Lauren’s smile never drops and her energy is extraordinary. She’sContinue reading “Fighting – With A Narrative”
  • Terrifying Chickens, Green Dreams.
    There’s a green festival at the Other place, and they do a plenty of musical dreaming up the road, but what’s especially dear to the hearts of many Worthing folk is the future of the planet and questions of how we can support sustainability. This was the 3rd Green Dreams festival, where a very motley crew ofContinue reading “Terrifying Chickens, Green Dreams.”
  • The Travelodge Rembrandt (part two).
    I had nothing left except my Vietnam football shirt, so I said, let’s get our hair bleached and think what to do next. Och, don’t call me Rembrandt.
  • The Travelodge Rembrandt. (Part One).
    I hide it all under my bed when I go out …. when I leave … I wonder if they’re gonna stop me one day.
  • Ethnographic Shorts
    Ethnographic shorts. Not this… but this …. 
  • WoBy – Worthing ethnographic – shifts here this week.
    The blog ‘worthing By Accident’ (WoBy) shifts here from its old home at SOAS blogs (university of London, UK). Ethnographic short flashes by Caroline Osella.