Infrastructures of Ethnography

Photo by Kristen Sturdivant on Unsplash

In 2021, the Ethnography Studio joined a group of four labs and centers to collectively explore what kinds of infrastructures might be put in place for ethnographic collaboration. The project is organized around three questions: What infrastructures can we build to meet the scale of challenges of contemporary ethnographic work? How can ethnography labs better help each other in training graduate students to practice multi-modal and collaborative forms of research? What kinds of ecosystems can we create that both facilitate large-scale collaborations in ethnography and lead to its valorization in academia and beyond? The project is led by Kregg Hetherington at Concordia University and Director of the Concordia Ethnography Lab with the support of SSHRC. It brings together the Ethnography Lab at the University of Toronto, the Center for Experimental Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania, the Collaborative and Experimental Ethnography Lab at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, and the Ethnography Studio at USC. The project will have a duration of three years and is conceived as the first step in the construction of a broader network that will likely involve many of the other exciting ethnographic spaces that have been created not only in North America but also by many research groups around the world.  

During the Fall of 2022, each lab/center/studio developed their own theme for ethnographic exploration in 2023 and graduate student participants across the spaces had a chance to meet and get to know each other in preparation for future collaboration and potential student mobility. (One of the objectives of the project is to foster peer-to-peer collaboration across institutions.) 

The Ethnography Studio participants decided to explore the theme of Porosities through a collaborative methodology where each participant will build on their own ethnographic project towards a collective theorization of the concept. Our early conceptualization of the theme can be found here. Studio members will develop their projects through studio co-working sessions, ethnographic fieldwork, analysis of secondary sources and data already collected, and multimodal techniques and forms of expression. Collectively they will develop a protocol, building on the format of the Experimenting with Ethnography book, that we hope will provide ideas on how to develop this kind of collaboration that does not depend on a shared object of investigation but instead is grounded on a shared curiosity around a concept. The team for the Porosities project includes Andrea Ballestero, Nicholas Bauch, Rachel Howard, Eduardo Romero Dianderas, Katie Ulrich, Grace Simbulan, Soh Tok Lin, and Brodie Quinn.

Participants will present the outcomes of their work at the 2023 annual Ethnographic Salon at USC, as well as through an online component that will be made public.