Veranstaltung: Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2019

Experimental Ethnography: Designs, Tactics, Collaborations

Professor Kim Fortun, Department of Anthropology, University of California Irvine, USA

Course dates: 29 July – 2 August 2019

Limitation: 25 participants

Main disciplines: Social Anthropology, Ethnograph

Objectives and learning outcome
This course is a theoretically animated, hands-on exploration of experimental ethnography — as an ethos, practice, and mode of expression.  Lectures will set students up to move through a series of “sketches” through which they work out different ways of setting up ethnographic projects, collecting, analyzing and interpreting data, and moving from ethnography to theory and back.  Students will also learn about technical tools that support ethnographic research, enabling collaboration among ethnographers and with researchers in other fields.  The course will help students think about the tactics, promise and limits of ethnographic research, and about different ways ethnography can be designed and carried out.

The course will tune ethnography to “late industrialism,” drawing out increasingly intense interaction across scales (local to planetary) and systems (eco-atmospheric, technoscientific, sociocultural, political, economic, discursive and educational).  These interactions produce new vulnerabilities and injustices, and call for new forms of expertise and  governance.  They also call for inventive, collaborative ethnography, new data practices and infrastructure, and critical engagements with the promise and politics of open science.

The course extends from long-running  effort, experimental in tenor, to integrate new technologies and media into the work of Writing Culture.   Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead’s stunning work with photography – as both a research tool and means of conveying their analysis — is one point of reference.    The history of filmmaking in the conduct and expression of cultural analysis has also been important, generating methodological questioning and innovation, and a body of work that literally provides multiple angles on matters of concern.  Digital tools and modes of presentation extend these threads and enable still other possibilities for students in the course to explore.  One work site will be the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography.

The course includes twenty, one-hour lecture/discussion segments over five days. Students will have the option to write a paper made up of a series of ethnographic sketches based on their own research material.  In advance of the course, students should closely read at least three ethnographic monographs, and the articles and project descriptions listed below.  *The list of articles and projects are subject to revision through 15 March 2019.

Lecture Topics and Schedule  (with more detailed descriptions below)

Day 1

  • Experiments in Ethnography
  • Figuring Out Ethnography
  • Tuning Ethnography
  • Tuning the Ethnographer

Day 2

  • Collaboration in/as Ethnographic Experiment
  • Computers in Ethnography
  • Ethnographic “Data Types”
  • Data Ethnography

Day 3

  • Field Notes, Unstructured and Structured
  • Temporalizing, Analyzing, Interpreting, Theorizing
  • Visualization in Ethnography
  • Writing Ethnography

Day 4

  • Data Ethics and Governance
  • Creative Data Management
  • (Re)Purposing Ethnographic Data
  • Publishing Futures

Day 5

  • Designing Ethnographic Projects
  • Educating For/With Ethnography
  • Relaying Ethnography
  • Ethnography in Late Industrialism

More information can be found here.