Ethnographic Experimentation Fieldwork Devices and Companions

Ethnographic Experimentation Fieldwork Devices and Companions
First Workshop of #Colleex Collaboratory for Ethnographic Experimentation
13th–15th July 2017, Jardim Botânico Tropical, Lisbon
Organized by #Colleex + EBANO collective + ICS (ULisboa) – Supported by EASA

Call for papers

“Fieldwork is not what it used to be” (Faubion and Marcus, 2009). The investigation of previously ignored social domains and the incorporation of new sensibilities beyond its typically verbal or visual conventions, have expanded ethnography: Anthropologists now engage in novel forms of relationship and intervention, and enter into heterodox exchanges with other disciplines like arts and design. The invocation of experimentation in fieldwork is part of this widened exploration of new ethnographic modalities that reshape the norm and form of fieldwork.

Recent invocations of experimentation in ethnographic projects are not merely a metaphorical gesture. Descriptive accounts of experimentation bring to life ethnographic imaginations that transform field informants into epistemic partners (Holmes and Marcus, 2005), remediate the form of ethnography in the company of others (Rabinow, 2011), or trade in the traditional comparative project of anthropology for a collaborative one (Riles, 2015). The experimental can thus be a distinctive articulation of the empirical work of anthropologists in the field.

To invoke ethnographic experimentation is not necessarily to signal a methodological rupture with conventional forms of ethnography. Rather, it is a distinctive form of narrating contemporary forms of fieldwork where ethnography is less a set of practicalities and procedures than a distinctive mode of anthropological problematization (Rabinow, 2011). Relying on the most genuine descriptive aspiration of anthropology, the invocation of ethnographic experimentation thus signals the exploration of conceptual languages for describing distinctive forms of engagement in the field.

We would like to focus on specific, thoughtfully designed interventions through which ethnography in the field unfolds in experimental ways. We are interested in particular forms of relationship, material artefacts, digital infrastructures, fieldnotes genres, spatial venues, methods of meeting… Following John Law and Evelyn Ruppert (2013) we call them “fieldwork devices”: arrangements that assemble the world in specific social and material patterns for the production of knowledge. We thus invite scholars to share descriptive accounts of how fieldwork devices turn ethnography into a venue for experimentation.

In this workshop, we invite all scholars (anthropologists and others social scientists) who resort to the figure of experimentation in describing their own ethnographic fieldwork practice, to share their ethnographic experiences.

Submission guidelines

We are open to receive two different types of contributions, ‘open formats and interventions’ and ‘short papers’. To be more specific:

1. Open formats and interventions (hands-on, individual or group-based): We are searching for experimenters wanting to develop, demonstrate or try out, on the venue of the workshop, different formats that allow us to spark a discussion on ethnographic experimentation.

2. Short papers. We would love to receive academic reflections and ethnographic nuanced meditations on the different ways and modalities of ethnographic experimentation. Participants should commit to send a short paper (3.000 – 4.000 words) by June 15th.

If you would like to submit a proposal please send us a 250 words abstract. In case you are submitting proposals for both types, please send two different emails. In the case of open format/intervention, please state your material needs and/or spatial requirements. Send the proposal to: stating in the subject: “Workshop – Open format” or “Workshop – Short paper”. The document should be named as follows: “Author’s Surname_Title of the paper”.

Deadline for submission: March 17th 2017
Deadline for the communication of results: Mid-April 2017

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