PhD Course - Experimenting with ethnography: Making time-space for analysis
PhD school at the IT University of Copenhagen in collaboration with the STAY HOME project at University of Copenhagen (funded by the Carlsberg Foundation).
Affiliated with the Network for the Anthropology of Technology and Antropologforeningen.
- Andrea Ballestero, University of Southern California
- Joe Dumit, University of California Davis
- Karen Waltorp, University of Copenhagen
- Trine Korsby, University of Copenhagen
- Rachel Douglas-Jones, ITU
- James Maguire, ITU
- Steffen Dalsgaard, ITU
- Brit Ross Winthereik (anchor teacher), ITU
Dates of the course:
Day 1: 10th of October, 2022
Day 2: 24th of October, 2022
Day 3: 25th of October, 2022
The course introduces the concept of ethnography as an experimental analytic practice. By offering the participants the opportunity to get acquainted with analytic protocols in theory and practice, the aim of the course is to open new paths of doing ethnographic analysis.
The structure of the course is based on chapters from the anthology Experimenting with Ethnography (Ballestero, Winthereik, eds. 2021), where the writers all use their own practice to suggest ways of experimenting with ethnographic analysis. Rather than approaching analysis as an abstract and solely intellectual practice, the aim of the book and its protocols is to convey a concrete mode of action and creative practice for researchers. An important point of departure for the book is problematizing that a fixed boundary between “the field” (data collection) and “the desk” (analysis, theorizing) exists or is automatically meaningful. How to collaborate around analysis is also a key topic of the book and will be addressed at the course.
The concept of the analytical protocols links to the history of experimental settings as a site of interest in the social sciences and humanities (Rheinberger 1997; Latour 1999; Tilley 2011; Kowal, Radin & Reardon 2013; Davies et al. 2018; Wolfe 2018 in Ballestero & Winthereik 2021). The experimentation that will happen with participants own material at the course, is discussed in relation to previous research on experiments and experimentation in anthropology and STS.
The course will cover a broad range of topics such as multimodal approaches, object exchange, sound recording, drawing, modes of collaboration and more. The theoretical scope of the course is connected to the material turn within anthropology and STS as well as the application of “object-oriented” methods and collaborative approaches that are widespread and increasingly common methodological tools in ethnographic fieldwork (Tsing, Pollman, 2005; Maguire, Watts, Winthereik (eds), 2021; Waltorp 2020; Tsing, Deger, Saxeana, Zhou, 2020).
Therefore, this course invites students to engage and reflect on both their empirical material as well as individual analytical thinking. In doing so, the course invites students to engage with questions such as:
- How are we confined by traditional ways of thinking about analysis in approaching our own data?
- How do experimental approaches to analysis inform the production of knowledge, the treatment of data, as well as the empirical sites we enter?
- How can we as researchers nurture a space of play opening up ways of experimental thinking?
- What new insights about our data and our object of study can we achieve by applying concrete protocols with method for experimentation.
The aims of the course are:
- For students to explore experimental approaches to analyzing their data material.
- Pursuing experimental thinking in doing ethnography and challenging the student’s biases, thinking habits and analytical practices.
- Training the students in creating circumstances for analytical openings and possibilities.
- Developing the student’s framework for analysis as practice with creativity in their research techniques.
- Strengthening the student’s confidence in switching between methods and modalities, blurring the distinctions between field work, data collection, analysis, and writing.
- Allowing the students to take a step back from concepts, theoretical interests and pre-assumed categorizations in their analytical thinking.
Format and programme:
The course consists of various formats including lectures from experienced scholars, facilitated on-site field work, peer to peer presentations and workshops all aimed at developing and testing new ethnographic skill sets in analysis.
The course spans over three days with time in between to allow for a progression over time in analytical thinking about the student’s own empirical material. To create continuity, the participants will be asked to make assignments in between the course days. The main outcome is to develop the participants’ skillset in the analysis of materials for their PhD project.
Secondary literature (can be subject to changes):
- Leach, Edmund The epistemological background to Malinowski ́s empiricism. (1957), 20 p.
- Lutz, Catherine Paths to Ifaluk (chapter 2 in Unnatural emotions 1988) 35 p.
- McGranahan C (2018) Ethnography Beyond Method: The Importance of an Ethnographic Sensibility. Sites: a journal of social anthropology and cultural studies 15(1). 10 p.
- Two chapters on research ethics and ethnographic methods from forthcoming Handbook for the Anthropology of Technology.
PhD students who have made their data collection / field work will benefit most from the course. If they are in doubt whether the course suits your needs they are welcome to contact anchor teacher Brit Ross Winthereik (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reflection paper of 5 pages building on the analytical insights and approaches for their data collection they gained from the course. Students can write in whatever format they find useful at the current stage of their research (e.g. a case analysis, how to integrate experimental approaches in research design etc.) The papers should be submitted to the organizers one month after completing the course. They will be reviewed by internal examination.
Amount of hours the student is expected to use on the course:
Total: 110 hours
Preparation of one-pager: 10
Reading submissions of other participants and preparing feedback: 5
Exercises in between workshop days: 5
How to sign up:
Deadline for registration: May 1, 2022
Applicants must send one page describing their research projects and motivation for the course, including a reflection on selected empirical data they want to bring to the course to email@example.com. If more than 25 PhD students apply, participants will be selected on the basis of diversity in research topic, geography and genders.