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Stranger than fiction: That lying, conniving, disabled snitch…burn, burn, burn the Witch!

Bonsall, Amy, Leigh, Jennifer S, Alexis-Martin, Becky, Pickard-Smith, Kelly, Spaeth, Elliott, Ghosts, PLUS (2024) Stranger than fiction: That lying, conniving, disabled snitch…burn, burn, burn the Witch! Feminist Review, . ISSN 0141-7789. (In press) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:104699)

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All authors are disabled scholars with varying experiences of learning disability, long term illness, chronic health conditions. All authors are neurodivergent. Three are currently unemployed, underemployed, and/or precariously employed. Two are from a marginalised ethnic/racial group. Two are the first in their generation to access higher education. Three have known severe poverty. Not all involved could be named on this publication.

The lived experience of the authors is woven into a singular cautionary tale to provide an every-person understanding of career-block within academia for disabled scholars. This artistic endeavour, inherently analytic in its documentation of the ‘identity work’ of our authors, draws on past experience (memory) weaved through imagination. The writing and publishing of this piece required a brutal honesty that lays us open, vulnerable, and at risk. However, as you will read, the risk of silence could be greater still.

Human experience can be understood through stories. Our work is concerned with performing the narrative of our daily lives (Langellier and Peterson, 2004); making the mundane magical and instilling belief in the unbelievable. Our lived experiences are stranger than fiction, and combined they enchant a fictional narrative that describes the necropolitics of career-blocking (Mbembe 2003) through a new methodology we call PanEthnography. As authors of different disciplines/fields and universities, we were united in our experiences of disability in the academe. We conceived and constructed PanEthnography through a lens of Embodied Inquiry (Bochner & Ellis 2016; Leigh and Brown 2021; Apostolidou and Daskalaki, 2021). During the month of October 2022 we formed a research collective (or writing coven), to explore our collective experiences of career blocking related to disability. The data gathering process was undertaken by digital means by using online video-conferencing and countless WhatsApp (Halliwell and Wilkinson 2021) messages to facilitate communication. These events were transcribed in real-time. It is essential to understand that the data gathering was needfully "quick'n'dirty”. This allowed us to capture the immediacy of the emotional response which is a defining characteristic of PanEthnography. This feature also marks this methodology out as being rooted in feminist consciousness raising and digital immediacy. Our PanEthnographic cautionary tale has been inspired by Ancient Greek Myths to provide an every-person understanding of career-block within academia. Each author’s experience is given equal status within the accounting, there is no main ‘narrator’ nor character driven ‘narrative’ as such. In this regard it could be argued that elements of PanEthnography might veer into Epic Poetry. A future methodological paper on the PanEthnography process is in progress, but necessarily relies on this paper/story becoming published in the world.

The narrative of all contributors was intertwined to form a singular enchantment: A casting of stories intertwined telling truth to power from witchkind.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: PanEthnography, witch, creative non-fiction, career blocking, disability, outsider, academia, feminism
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Jennifer Leigh
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2024 12:55 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2024 16:19 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Leigh, Jennifer S.

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Alexis-Martin, Becky.

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