Laurie Charlés finished her Ph.D., then took off to West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer. Asked to create programs to help adolescent girls stay in school, she found herself enmeshed in the politics and cultural barriers that prevent these girls from creating a better life. But that was not all that was enmeshed. Charlés found love, sexual fulfillment, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination, all of which further complexified her stated mission. Her candid assessment of life and work in Africa, the intimate relationships that gave hope to the possibility of change, the emotional and physical highs and lows that affected her ability to function, all become factors affecting her success in improving the lives of African girls. This eloquent narrative should be of interest both to those doing development work and to those interested in autoethnographic exploration of the self.
Writing Lives: Ethnographic and Autoethnographic Narratives publishes autoethnographic and narrative research projects across the disciplines of the human sciences—anthropology, communication, education, psychology, sociology, etc. The series editors seek manuscripts that blur the boundaries between humanities and social sciences. We encourage novel and evocative forms of expressing concrete lived experience, including literary, poetic, artistic, critical, visual, performative, multi-voiced, and co-constructed representations. We are interested in ethnographic and autoethnographic narratives that depict local stories; employ literary modes of scene setting, dialogue, character development, and unfolding action; and include the author's critical reflections on the research and writing process, such as research ethics, alternative modes of inquiry and representation, reflexivity, and evocative storytelling.
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