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Writer-in-Residence (1 September 2005 - 31 January 2006)
During my extremely fruitful six-month stay at NIAS, I was able to work intensively on my book Hout [Wood] under optimal circumstances. The refreshing new environment allowed me to think more freely and diversely, there were a minimum of interruptions and I was amidst stimulating company in the form of other fellows and staff members. I also benefited from the seminars and various social activities, though naturally giving priority to my research and writing.
In addition to completing extensive background reading, I gained unlimited access to an original copy of Hendricus Lorentz's journal of the Asmat expedition in 1913 Zwarte mensen, witte bergen [Black People, White Mountains], replete with additional notes and an unprecedented critical commentary by Jan van Nouhuys Sr., who was on the same expedition. I also had access to letters, unpublished articles, sketches and photographs from the latter's collection, all of which are highly relevant to my book.
I devoted the first few months of my stay primarily to working on Chapter 6. This chapter describes the purumuc or rowing chants of the Asmat and the impressionthese songs made on both myself and my travelling companion during our various journeys through Papua New Guinea. I incorporated aspects of Chapter 7 (about the singer/poet Ndo) and Chapter 8 (about the woodcarver Oak) into this chapter. Contrary to my intentions, but following a spontaneous and more or less intuitive method of work in which I constantly asked myself what 'the main argument' of the book was and which concepts should play a key role, Chapter 6 became extremely long (more than 120 pages of the present total manuscript of 250 pages). I will need to deal with the problem of chapters of uneven length (Chapter 9, for example, in which I describe a unique football game, is only ten pages long) at a later date. I am very happy with the progress I made on the book, and believe I should be able to complete it during 2006.
Furthermore, during this same period I gave seven lectures and co-organised two workshops, as well as editing short, texts previously written a collection of essays entitled De bijenchoreograaf, [The Bee Choreographer] that will be published during 2007.
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