As a triple national I have an ongoing interest in cultural transition. (I grew up in Alabama, married and raised my family in Switzerland and work(ed) in the country of Georgia.) My PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology from the University of Basel, Switzerland followed on my studies in International Development in Geneva. I worked in the former Soviet country of Georgia in the 1990s for a French humanitarian organization, bringing in food aid to large families in Tbilisi, then worked to create Georgian NGOs in environmental protection and headed a study on Biodiversity for UNEP and the Ministry of the Environment. For more than two decades I worked as Child Protection Advisor for several intl organizations. Today I edit and write fiction and non-fiction, live in Tbilisi and still campaign for a fairer (and cleaner!) planet.
The Kitchen Door
"The Kitchen Door, Mary Ellen Chatwin's winning entry in our Food Story competition, is an understated, dignified, poignant account of a community under pressure, and of the role food plays in maintaining cultural identity.
The story is undated but the background to it is the war between Russia and Georgia in 2008. Set in Georgia, this quietly observational story of a meal held to welcome the investigators into a political murder is narrated by one of the women working behind the scenes to prepare the food. The story is her internal narrative and it takes the position of recounting events from the viewpoint of a person who is liable to be overlooked by the people gathered to eat the food she has been involved in preparing. Told with restrained, deceptive simplicity; the style reflects the story it tells in that it has hidden depths.
The Kitchen Door highlights the importance of food in ritual, the dignity of hospitality, and the role of food in holding a community together in times of grief. "
We've Come So Far in Who Are We? Anthology2020
Awards and Recognition
- Winner Competition Short Story Writing Magazine UK, March 2019
- • Member, Central Eurasian Studies Society, Harvard University, USA • Member, Society for Children’s Writers and Illustrators, USA • Member, PEN International • Member, Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies: Recertification 2017 • Honorary Award, Georgian Association of Social Workers for contribution to the development of social work profession and professional association in Georgia. 25 December 2007