Our First Article! On Reintegration, Hospitality and Hostility

26 Mar 2020

Last September, we published our first academic paper from the Distant Voices project, in the Journal of Extreme Anthropology. Before you ask, no, we don’t know what ‘extreme anthropology’ is either, but Alison, Fergus, Phil and Louis met some of the people involved with the journal when we took part in a conference in Ghent in September 2018. They were interested in our presentation at the conference (with Alison and Fergus talking and Louis performing) and asked us to submit a paper.

In some ways, it’s an unusual paper. Most often with research projects, the papers come after all the research has been done, all the ‘data’ collected and analysed. Instead, our talk and our paper reflected on Distant Voices as a work in progress.

We set the scene by arguing that people trying to reintegrate into communities after imprisonment often find themselves in a ‘hostile environment’, a bit like people seeking asylum. We suggest that, as well as preparing people for their return, we need to tackle that hostility to clear the path home; and to make finding a place of belonging possible.

The paper goes on to explore what we do in Distant Voices – and how it creates places, spaces and moments of connection, through songwriting sessions, through events where we share the songs, and in the wider community built around these practices. Basically, we try to explain why hospitality, rather than hostility, is modelled in what we do – and to admit just how complex, difficult and challenging that can be for all involved.

As we say in the conclusion, ‘In the final analysis, either we find ways to explore and imagine how to live together, or we live apart’.  We choose ‘together’ and, hopefully, in the paper we explain how and why Distant Voices both seeks to understand re-integration and to find ways to practice it.

If you’d like to read the paper, you can find it HERE


Leave a comment below or email us.