Creative Work

November 9, 2020

Songs and Stories as the Key of Life: Understanding the role of narrative in inspiring health

Chisomo Kalinga

In this recorded presentation, I will feature songs, short, stories and poems written by ordinary citizens living in remote and rural Malawi. These contributions were written by the participants of my recently completed fieldwork which examines the role of literature in the day-to-day lives of Malawians as they navigate issues pertaining to health and the body. The piece will show images and video stills from the field, in addition to the writings of the research participants.

The objective is to demonstrate through creative presentation how storytelling and its forms as viewed as vital components of healing. Some are stories from the past, others biblical hymns, and the rest are creations made during our time in the field. The presentation will outline the ways in which songs and stories are composed and constructed as a means to breath energy into a sick body.

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Chisomo Kalinga

About Chisomo Kalinga

Dr Chisomo Kalinga is a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities Fellow at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh. Her current research project is titled ‘Ulimbaso ‘You will be strong again’: How literary aesthetics and storytelling inform concepts of health and wellbeing in Malawi’.. Dr Kalinga’s fieldwork investigates contemporary performance and storytelling from poets, actors, writers and ordinary citizens within communities to examine the ways modern and traditional African literature and storytelling forms are used to inform and help communities to negotiate matters pertaining to illness, treatment, health and wellbeing.  She is currently collaborating with her colleagues at the University of Malawi and the Malawi University of Science and Technology to launch the Malawi Medical Humanities Network (MMHN), an interdisciplinary network for Malaŵiana researchers around the world to share events, programmes, projects and exhibitions that explore the link between health and the humanities.