writer pramoedya ananta toer spent fourteen years as a political prisoner on indonesia's notorious buru island, arrested and beaten as a communist and enemy of suharto's new order.  while in prison, he was unable to use paper and pen to write his stories; rather, he created rich oral stories about the lives of colonized indonesia that he would share with his fellow inmates in the shower--the only time when the prisoners has any social interaction.  many of these prisoners have said that it was toer's stories that got them through their time on buru island.  after many years, he was finally allowed to write these stories down with the assistance of the other prisoners, who shared his work so he could spend more time writing.  only four of these stories survived (as the buru quartet)--the rest were taken and destroyed by prison guards.  though his work was later banned by the indonesian government, indonesian people copied and shared his writing.  the first novel, this earth of mankind, has become a classic work on (post)colonial life.

"i don't write to give joy to readers but to give them a conscience."

thanks to wendy laura belcher's "writing your journal article in 12 weeks" for the story--and the reminder that all writing (academic or otherwise) can be creative, collaborative, and maybe even transformative for both the writer and the reader.