Gender, Creativity and Insanity: From an Anthropologist’s Notebook

Meenakshie Verma*

Gender, Creativity and Insanity: From an Anthropologist’s Notebook. This essay has emerged through my research engagements with life history as a research method in anthropology. It is based on the life events of a woman artist. The past few decades have brought an explosion of cultural criticisms and also explorations of women’s creative expressions across cultures. Some of the queries addressed are, how do external forces shape the creativity of female artists.

Biographical research is an exciting and fast moving field which seeks to understand the changing experiences and outlooks of individuals in their daily lives. What is extremely important is that how to provide interpretations of the accounts people give to their past, present and future.

Sociologists too provide certain frames to work with biographical method as a research tool. A family of terms combines in different permutations to shape the biographical method such as life, self, experience, case, autobiography, story, narrative, narrator, fiction, history, personal history, oral history, case history, case study, writing presence, difference, life history, life story, self-story, and personal experience story.

Anthropologist Csordas has addressed few similar issues around studying emotions and embodiment in a particular cultural context. He argues, that in a larger research framework of culture, cognition and self a paradigm of embodiment can be explored, because this framework explains how self is culturally constituted. In Laetitia’s life story one sees various shades of fixed dispositions unfold.

The appeal of biographical research is that it explores diverse interpretive ways to understand individual accounts of life experience. Such narratives can be understood within a particular
cultural and structural setting.

In the process mapping major societal processes that are consistently formulated under way. Also, it
raises queries around several junctures constituted by an individual’s life story narrative.

Anthropol Open J. 2020; 4(1): 9-14. doi: 10.17140/ANTPOJ-4-120