Tag Archives: ethnography

Ethics and Ethnography

An outcome of a fine collaboration, fed by lots of discussions with Annamaria Carusi and with members of the Virtual Ethnography Collaboratory–thanks everyone!

Beaulieu, Anne and Adolfo Estalella. In Press, 2012. Rethinking Research Ethics for Mediated Settings. Information, Communication and Society. A bit more about the background for this paper can be found on this other blog.

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Ethno Reading Group Meeting

Although it’s been quiet on the blog, rather a lot has been happening lately, ethnography-wise, and I’m hoping to write some more about these many developments in the coming days.

But looking ahead for now… A few of us will be meeting on 20 November to pursue the ethno reading group activities we started last spring. We’ll discuss Coming of Age on this occasion.

Interestingly, this social science book was reviewed in Nature, (review provided courtesy of Tom Boellstorff).

Update on the Bags Project

The next postings will be derived from a second set of conversations Sally and I have been having with colleagues about their bags. Although it is still early in this project, we have already had some very interesting experiences about the relation between ‘raw fieldnotes’ and these posts, about ‘voice’, and about how to articulate authorship. We are also still learning how to address the materiality of these bags-descriptions shift to function and seem to depart from materiality very quickly in conversation. On the other hand, making photos, and the discussion about how to do this, seem to help focus on the attributes of the bag. And of course we still need to think further about what we mean by materiality.

ethnography of digital objects

The newest face at the VKS is that of Dina Friis, a Masters student in Anthropology from the University of Aarhus*, where she is working with Renaissance man Andreas Roepstroff. In our weekly research meeting, Dina told about her fieldwork on the electronic patient record and the framework for her project. This led to a discussion of (among other issues) actor network theory and politics–namely, about whether taking software and infrastructure seriously as political subjects is itself a (sufficient) political move, and about the possibility of conjoining ANT with other types of (interventionist) politics.

And as usual, lots of suggestions were made, and other vks’ers pointed Dina to potentially interesting resources–though Dina has lost no time in connecting to relevant researchers in the network! She will be working on these issues in the coming months (her stay is planned to last until May), which will lead to a Master’s thesis.

*looking around the site of the dept, I came across what looks like a fantastic event on holism in ethnography, to be held this summer in Aarhus.

Visit from Ximena Alarcon

We had the pleasure of welcoming Ximena for a lunch and a chat today. She is an ethnographer and sound artist, based in the Institute of Creative Technologies, in Leicester. She spoke with us about her plans to further develop the project that was at the heart of her phd, a virtual installation about sounds and memories of the London Tube. She will be exploring the commuting experience of users of the metros of Paris and Mexico City. She has many ambitions for this new phase of her work, among them, reworking the virtual installation to integrate various aspects of it, and create the possibility of links with its counterparts in other cities.

We discussed several aspects of the project, for example, the way sounds and memories can be represented differently (textual vs aural), the linearity of commuting and the non-linearity of the installation, as well as the relation between autobiographical experiences (life courses) and memories of the Tube and the tension between soundscapes and visual material with the predominantly visual paradigm of webdesign.

Personally, I was again quite intrigued by the Ximena’s approach to fieldwork and to her installation (she had presented a small part of her project at the VE workshop last year). Her project to understand and represent experience are not based on brute force (obtaining thousands of sound samples) nor on appeals to authenticity of her observation as the all-knowing fieldworker. Rather, her way of working is highly iterative: gathering material in the company of respondents, talking to them at length, going back to them with the material gathered, reworking it, gathering once again the respondent’s reactions to the transformed material, making it part of her installation. All this work constructs a very rich version of experience that requires a lasting, growing research relationship, and one that draws beautifully on the reflexive potential of respondents.