robertogreco + ethnography   203

Field Experience
"Field Experience is an organization dedicated to the cultivation of curiosity and creativity through inquiry and the art of exploration."

"Field Experience was founded by Minneapolis-based designer and researcher Julka Almquist. She has 15 years of experience as an ethnographer and design researcher. While working at IDEO she found that people were profoundly impacted by the inspiration phase of research, and that exploring the world was far more transformational than sitting in an office giving presentations. Since then, she has grown passionate about the art of exploration and how it can heighten curiosity and creativity. She holds a PhD at the intersection of design and anthropology from the University of California, Irvine, and has taught at Art Center College of Design and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Julka collaborates with an extraordinary team of experts to craft learning experiences. Explore with us: hello@fieldexperience.co"

[See also:

https://www.instagram.com/field_experience/

"Reading List"
https://fieldexperience.co/readinglist

""Landscape: An Education Program"
https://fieldexperience.co/programs

"Throughout 2019, we are curating an experience-based learning program in Minneapolis/St. Paul called Landscape. We will be exploring creativity through a variety of events situated within our natural landscape. Project support provided by the Visual Arts Fund, administered by Midway Contemporary Art with generous funding from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, New York.

We are partnering with local and international artists, designers, naturalists, and biologists to craft experiences for our community. The monthly programs will be free and open to the public. We have an events calendar with programming updates, and a reading list where we post articles, chapters and other forms of inspiration to accompany the programs.

Our programs are grounded in the following ideas:

Local Landscape
We have increasingly been asking questions about how our relationship to the natural world influences our creativity. We aim to expand creative practice through new ways of engaging with our local landscape, and in particular with plants. Our programming will be shaped in response to the changing seasons.

Place-Based Pedagogy
One of the fundamental goals of this program is to build community in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and to foster a deeper connection to place through creative learning experiences. We acknowledge the history of place, and that we are working on Dakota and Ojibwe land.

Experiential and Sensorial Inquiry
The modes of inquiry for the program are embodied, experienced-based, and multi-sensory. We encourage everyone to get out of their offices, studios, and classrooms and into the world. In order to engage the senses, the workshops and events will primarily be outdoors, with the exception of the deep winter months when our extreme climate brings us indoors.

Creative Experimentation
Many of our programs will offer an opportunity for making. We want to encourage people to make things that may not be central to their practice and to push the boundaries of creative experimentation. We also hope that the experiences and discussions are transformational and inspire new possibilities for creative practice."]
lcproject  openstudioproject  local  place  experience  experientiallearning  learning  education  landscape  pedagogy  place-based  senses  via:jenksbyjenks  julkaalmquist  minnesota  minneapolis  ethnography  sensoryethnography  design  anthropology  place-basededucation  place-basedlearning  place-basedpedagogy 
14 days ago by robertogreco
Together: The Rituals Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation with Richard Sennett - YouTube
"New York University sociologist and historian Richard Sennett addresses the phenomenon of why people tend to avoid engaging with others who are different, leading to a modern politics of the tribe rather than the city. In this thought-provoking talk, Sennett offers ideas on what might be done to encourage people to live with others who are racially, ethnically, religiously or economically unlike themselves. [3/2012] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 23304]"
tichardsennett  togetherness  community  2012  empathy  sympathy  design  ethnography  sociology  diversity  difference  curiosity  segregation  self-segregation  openness  openminded  jeromebruner  cognition  xenophobia  xenophilia  tribes  politics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library - The New York Times
"Is the public library obsolete?

A lot of powerful forces in society seem to think so. In recent years, declines in the circulation of bound books in some parts of the country have led prominent critics to argue that libraries are no longer serving their historical function. Countless elected officials insist that in the 21st century — when so many books are digitized, so much public culture exists online and so often people interact virtually — libraries no longer need the support they once commanded.

Libraries are already starved for resources. In some cities, even affluent ones like Atlanta, entire branches are being shut down. In San Jose, Calif., just down the road from Facebook, Google and Apple, the public library budget is so tight that users with overdue fees above $20 aren’t allowed to borrow books or use computers.

But the problem that libraries face today isn’t irrelevance. Indeed, in New York and many other cities, library circulation, program attendance and average hours spent visiting are up. The real problem that libraries face is that so many people are using them, and for such a wide variety of purposes, that library systems and their employees are overwhelmed. According to a 2016 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, about half of all Americans ages 16 and over used a public library in the past year, and two-thirds say that closing their local branch would have a “major impact on their community.”

Libraries are being disparaged and neglected at precisely the moment when they are most valued and necessary. Why the disconnect? In part it’s because the founding principle of the public library — that all people deserve free, open access to our shared culture and heritage — is out of sync with the market logic that dominates our world. But it’s also because so few influential people understand the expansive role that libraries play in modern communities.

Libraries are an example of what I call “social infrastructure”: the physical spaces and organizations that shape the way people interact. Libraries don’t just provide free access to books and other cultural materials, they also offer things like companionship for older adults, de facto child care for busy parents, language instruction for immigrants and welcoming public spaces for the poor, the homeless and young people.

I recently spent a year doing ethnographic research in libraries in New York City. Again and again, I was reminded how essential libraries are, not only for a neighborhood’s vitality but also for helping to address all manner of personal problems.

For older people, especially widows, widowers and those who live alone, libraries are places for culture and company, through book clubs, movie nights, sewing circles and classes in art, current events and computing. For many, the library is the main place they interact with people from other generations.

For children and teenagers, libraries help instill an ethic of responsibility, to themselves and to their neighbors, by teaching them what it means to borrow and take care of something public, and to return it so others can have it too. For new parents, grandparents and caretakers who feel overwhelmed when watching an infant or a toddler by themselves, libraries are a godsend.

In many neighborhoods, particularly those where young people aren’t hyper-scheduled in formal after-school programs, libraries are highly popular among adolescents and teenagers who want to spend time with other people their age. One reason is that they’re open, accessible and free. Another is that the library staff members welcome them; in many branches, they even assign areas for teenagers to be with one another.

To appreciate why this matters, compare the social space of the library with the social space of commercial establishments like Starbucks or McDonald’s. These are valuable parts of the social infrastructure, but not everyone can afford to frequent them, and not all paying customers are welcome to stay for long.

Older and poor people will often avoid Starbucks altogether, because the fare is too expensive and they feel that they don’t belong. The elderly library patrons I got to know in New York told me that they feel even less welcome in the trendy new coffee shops, bars and restaurants that are so common in the city’s gentrifying neighborhoods. Poor and homeless library patrons don’t even consider entering these places. They know from experience that simply standing outside a high-end eatery can prompt managers to call the police. But you rarely see a police officer in a library.

This is not to say that libraries are always peaceful and serene. During the time I spent doing research, I witnessed a handful of heated disputes, physical altercations and other uncomfortable situations, sometimes involving people who appeared to be mentally ill or under the influence of drugs. But such problems are inevitable in a public institution that’s dedicated to open access, especially when drug clinics, homeless shelters and food banks routinely turn away — and often refer to the library! — those who most need help. What’s remarkable is how rarely these disruptions happen, how civilly they are managed and how quickly a library regains its rhythm afterward.

The openness and diversity that flourish in neighborhood libraries were once a hallmark of urban culture. But that has changed. Though American cities are growing more ethnically, racially and culturally diverse, they too often remain divided and unequal, with some neighborhoods cutting themselves off from difference — sometimes intentionally, sometimes just by dint of rising costs — particularly when it comes to race and social class.

Libraries are the kinds of places where people with different backgrounds, passions and interests can take part in a living democratic culture. They are the kinds of places where the public, private and philanthropic sectors can work together to reach for something higher than the bottom line.

This summer, Forbes magazine published an article arguing that libraries no longer served a purpose and did not deserve public support. The author, an economist, suggested that Amazon replace libraries with its own retail outlets, and claimed that most Americans would prefer a free-market option. The public response — from librarians especially, but also public officials and ordinary citizens — was so overwhelmingly negative that Forbes deleted the article from its website.

We should take heed. Today, as cities and suburbs continue to reinvent themselves, and as cynics claim that government has nothing good to contribute to that process, it’s important that institutions like libraries get the recognition they deserve. It’s worth noting that “liber,” the Latin root of the word “library,” means both “book” and “free.” Libraries stand for and exemplify something that needs defending: the public institutions that — even in an age of atomization, polarization and inequality — serve as the bedrock of civil society.

If we have any chance of rebuilding a better society, social infrastructure like the library is precisely what we need."

[See also: "Your Public Library Is Where It’s At"
https://www.subtraction.com/2018/09/11/your-public-library-is-where-its-at/

"I’ve seen for myself real life examples of virtually all of these use cases. It really opened my eyes to how vital a civic institution the libraries in my community are. But I take mild exception to the emphasis that Klinenberg places on a library’s ability to “address all manner of personal problems.” That phrasing gives the impression that a library is a place you go principally to solve some kind of challenge.

While that’s often true, it’s also true that a library is a building that’s uniquely open to any purpose you bring to it. Your business there could be educational, professional, personal or even undecided, and you don’t need to declare it to anyone—you can literally loiter in your local public library with no fear of consequences.

Even more radically, your time at the library comes with absolutely no expectation that you buy anything. Or even that you transact at all. And there’s certainly no implication that your data or your rights are being surrendered in return for the services you partake in.

This rare openness and neutrality imbues libraries with a distinct sense of community, of us, of everyone having come together to fund and build and participate in this collective sharing of knowledge and space. All of that seems exceedingly rare in this increasingly commercial, exposed world of ours. In a way it’s quite amazing that the concept continues to persist at all.

And when we look at it this way, as a startlingly, almost defiantly civilized institution, it seems even more urgent that we make sure it not only continues to survive, but that it should also thrive, too. If not for us, then for future generations who will no doubt one day wonder why we gave up so much of our personal rights and communal pleasures in exchange for digital likes and upturned thumbs. For years I took the existence of libraries for granted and operated under the assumption that they were there for others. Now I realize that they’re there for everybody."
ericklinenberg  libraries  culture  publiclibraries  2018  community  education  self-directed  self-directedlearning  books  publicspaces  ethnography  nyc  neighborhoods  thirdspaces  openness  diversity  us  democracy  inequality  cities  atomization  polarization  khoivinh 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Making the Ordinary Visible: Interview with Yasar Adanali : Making Futures
"Yaşar Adanalı defines his work over the past decade as being that of a “part time academic researcher and part time activist”. He is one of the founders of the Center for Spatial Justice in Istanbul, an urban institute that focuses on issues of spatial justice in Istanbul and beyond. In this interview, he reflects upon “continuance” as a tool of engagement, the power of attending to the ordinary within the production of space, and the different types of public that this works seeks to address.

What led to the founding of the Center for Spatial for Justice and how does its work relate to the worlds of academia, activism and urbanism?

I’m interested in questions regarding spatial production in general and more specifically justice – the injustices that derive from spatial processes or the spatial aspect of social injustices. The Center for Spatial Justice takes the acronym MAD in Turkish – a MAD organisation against mad projects, that’s our founding moto. We bring together people from different disciplines such as architects, urban planners, artists, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and geographers to produce work in relation to what’s going here: grassroots struggles in the city and in the countryside. The Center for Spatial Justice believes in the interconnectedness of urban and rural processes.

As educator and an activist, you work both within and outside an institutional setting. Have you been able to take the latter experience back into the academy and if so, what in particular? How do these two roles inform each other?

Since 2014 I have been teaching a masters design studio at TU Darmstadt. It’s a participatory planning course that both follows and supports a cooperative housing project in Düzce, Turkey, produced for and by the tenants who were badly affected by the 1999 earthquake. Over the course of the past five years, the master students have been developing a 4000 sq m housing project from scratch. The students from Darmstadt come to Istanbul as interns, working partly on the project. The result is a long-lasting relationship with the neighbourhoods in question and with the organisations we have been working with.

Apart from that, through MAD and Beyond Istanbul we develop summer and winter schools – non-academic experiences that similarly bridge the gap between the alternative universe and the mainstream universe. When you start to put critical questions into the minds of the students, these linger and they then take them back to the university, so their friends and professors also become exposed to that. We prefer to develop this approach outside of the university so that we are freed from bureaucracy and rigid structures but we keep it open to enrolled students and professors.

What are some particular strategies and methodologies that you adopt to engender this approach to urban practice? How do you involve local residents, for example?

That building of long-term relationships with communities is why we do a lot of walking. Our research questions are informed by the community and the site we arrive at – we do not predetermine hypotheses in advance. We remain in direct contact with different groups in the city and walk through these territories – with the neighbourhood association – not just once but every week. We listen to a lot of stories and record them. Oral histories are an important part of the ethnographic enquiry.

We also use mapping, a tool commonly used to exert power but that nature can be reversed. Through mapping we reclaim territories that have perhaps been “erased” – that is, transformed by injustice. We also map informal areas and then give those maps to the communities there because the way they appear on official plans often doesn’t reflect how things look on the ground. What looks like a carpark in the plan might be someone’s house; what’s represented as a commercial development might currently be a neighbourhood park or some other form of already existing social infrastructure.

In addition, we try to embed journalistic means within our academic interests, which is why we work with documentary journalists and photographers on each of our projects. We broadcast spatial justice news videos, in depth films that offer 8-10 minutes of reporting on a particular issue, giving it context and also pointing towards possible solutions. Solution journalism, which doesn’t just focus on crisis, is very important in the work we do.

As part of its work making spatial injustices visible, MAD publishes a wide range of materials. Which are the publics you try to communicate with through this?

Research has to be coupled with a conscious effort to communicate because you want to make change. We don’t want to make research for the sake of research or produce publications for the sake of publishing. We want to create those publics you allude to – and to influence them. We are addressing people involved in the discipline in its broadest sense: planners, architects, sociologists, activists, but perhaps most especially students who are interested in spatial issues, urban questions and environmental concerns. They are our main target. We want them to understand that their discipline has much more potential than what they are learning at university. I’m not saying the entire education system is wrong but there is much larger perspective beyond it and great potential for collaboration with other disciplines and engagement with different publics as well.

Another important public is the one directly involved with our work, i.e. the community that is being threatened by renewal projects. These groups are not only our public but also our patrons – we are obliged to be at their service and offer technical support, whether that’s recording a meeting with the mayor or analysing a plan together. Then there is the larger audience of broader society, who we hope to encourage to think of and engage with these issues of inequality and spatial justice.

I found an interesting quote on your webpage that says that the founding of MAD “is an invitation to understand the ordinary in an extraordinary global city context”. Can you talk a little about the urban context of Istanbul, Turkey and why the focus on the ordinary?

Everything about Istanbul is extraordinary: transformation, speed, scale. We are interested in making the ordinary visible because when we focus so much on the mega-projects, on the idea of the global city, then the rest of the city is made invisible. We look beyond the city centre – the façade – and beyond the mainstream, dominant discourse. This “ordinary” is the neighbourhood, nature and that which lies beyond the spectacle – other Turkish cities, for example. This approach can entail initiatives that range from historical urban gardening practices, working with informal neighbourhoods subject to eviction and relocation processes, or rural communities on the very eastern border currently threatened by new mine projects.

More specifically, today we live in an extraordinary state. The public arena is in a deep crisis and the democratic institutions and their processes do not really deserve our direct involvement right now. Having said that, there are different pockets within these systems, municipal authorities that operate differently, for example, and when we find these we work with them, but we remain realistic with regards to our limits. The “now” in Turkey has been lost in the sense that its relevance is not linked to the future beyond or to the next generation. That is a deep loss. But if you have the vision and the production means, if you set up a strong system, build the capacity first of yourself and then of the groups your work with, then when the right moment comes, all of these elements will flourish."
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  maps  mapping  neighborhoods  unschooling  deschooling  education  independence  lcproject  openstudioproject  justice  visibility  istanbul  turkey  ethnography  inquiry  erasure  injustice  infrastructure  socialinfrastructure  2018  rosariotalevi  speed  scale  transformation  walking  community  yasaradanali  space  placemaking  interconnectedness  interconnected  geography  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  socialjustice  architecture  design  film  law  legal  filmmaking  journalism  rural  engagement 
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Role of the Ritual | MISC
"When we build insights, we are trying
 to elevate something that has been observed during anthropological fieldwork into something that has profound meaning for the design process and allows us to identify problems that can be addressed as we build a product or service. This is not always easy, because people are often looking for an “aha moment” that feels revolutionary or transformative. However, some of the most important in-field discoveries are actually far subtler; they are realizations that the people we study see very mundane things in slightly different ways than we do. In these instances, the role of the insight is not to highlight and observe a single issue or to identify an unmet need, but rather to allow the reader to see something that they already know in a completely different way.

The insight I have selected is a good example of this. It came from a project in which my team and I examined the experience of self-injecting medication. We went into the field and spoke with a large number of individuals who had to use hypodermic needles or injection pens (self-contained automatic injection devices that deliver a subcutaneous injection with the push of a single button) to take their medication without the assistance of a nurse or doctor. The purpose of the project was to try to make this experience better. What we found was that patients have a very different experience than their doctors and nurses think they do. We also found that there were some commonalities in the way people approached their injections, underlying what seemed to be idiosyncratic approaches. These commonalities became the key to articulating a set of insights that provide context for the entire act of self-injecting, rather than focusing on a particular need or problem to solve. These contextual insights provided a basis for the insights and observations that guided our ideation and design. Here, I present the most important one.

There Is Always a Ritual

The most profound way that people contextualize all aspects of their self- injection and bring this process into 
their lives is by building a ritual for injecting. This ritual can take days or seconds, and it can have any number of steps. Despite the variation in people’s rituals, the act of ritual itself is an important way that patients contextualize the meaning of everything they are doing when they self-inject. This makes it easier for them to manage their fear and incorporate 
the alien action of self-injection into their lives. The ritual provides structure and allows them to turn complicated actions into habits. It does this by allowing them to systematically make difficult actions simpler through repetition. This repetition also provides a context for these actions that helps patients think about other things and avoid obsessing about the injection. However, these rituals are not taught by healthcare practitioners; they are the product of trial and error, which can result in mistakes becoming permanent habits.

Implications

/ Rituals can be healthy or unhealthy developments.

/ Failure is a major component in the development of an injection ritual.

/ A ritual must be respected, because it is a carefully organized mechanism for managing oneself and one’s emotional wellbeing.

/ Most healthcare practitioners do
 not teach ritual in any meaningful way, and, as a result, patients’ rituals are not respected or supported by the healthcare system.

This insight is something that is true despite a great deal of variation. Because it is
 not the product of a single observation, its implications are deeper than just uncovering a need or alerting the reader to something interesting. It speaks about something structural that is universal. Because of this, it has the power to substantially change our thinking.

Understanding how humans build rituals of all kinds can profoundly change the design process. Rituals have a basic structure, and we can look to ethnographic literature for any number of examples. Following Arnold van Gennep’s work on rites of passage and Victor Turner’s 
work The Ritual Process, we know that rituals have a basic structure. There 
are roughly three major phases: the entry, the liminal phase, and the exit phase.
 The purpose of a ritual of any kind is to develop a liminal state, a new conceptual space that is outside of real life. In such 
a space, society’s rules are different. People speak a different way, we act differently, and we are able to do things that might be against the rules of our daily lives. For good examples, think about how people act on a Friday night
 at a club, during a carnival, or at weddings. Much of that behavior would be completely out of place when the 
sun is out. The entry and exit phases are transitional phases that help people 
both move away from real life and get back into it. We put on different clothes; we pump ourselves up. We even add stimulants like drugs or alcohol to change our conceptual state. The process is entirely devoted to behaving in a different way and socializing differently.

When it comes to ritual and self-injection, the difference between the liminal phase and real life is what allows us to do things like inject a metal needle into our bodies. Patients’ rituals are organized so that they can do something they otherwise would not do. This also means that we have to pay close attention to what patients do to get themselves into this liminal phase.

Any designed intervention into this ritual – be it a service or a new injection device – is actually a forced adjustment to existing rituals. Additionally, clinical training is actually ritual training. Nurses who help people learn to use self- injection devices are actually laying 
the foundation for an injection ritual.
 This means that if we make changes to the training or design a new service 
to help people eliminate something like site pain or improper injection technique, we are actually designing rituals.

The practical implications of this are easy to understand. As service designers, we have to make sure that whatever 
we build to help is part of building a good ritual. Any self-injection service has to help people with their entry phase; it has to make sense in the liminal state; and 
it has to help people return to their daily realities. Understanding that the ritual
 is the most important factor for understanding the successes and failures of the moment of injection helps us design
 with new information. Without an insight like this, we would be unaware that 
we are not designing an experience; we are designing for three discrete phases
 of a ritual process.

Each of these parts already has a 
logic that we all understand and use. The ritual process provides a guide 
for organization behavior. No ritual can be redesigned without serious thought 
and attention. This insight brings in a wider world of human behavior that
 will make the design process easier by focusing a designer’s attention onto 
a framework that they already know.
 With this information in mind, the entire design process can take a new
 direction and align itself with something that makes us all the more human."
paulhartley  ethnography  medicine  health  ritual  injections  2018  behavior  anthropology  fieldwork  self-injection 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Dr. Michelle Fine on Willful Subjectivity and Strong Objectivity in Education Research - Long View on Education
"In this interview, Dr. Michelle Fine makes the argument for participatory action research as a sophisticated epistemology. Her work uncovers the willful subjectivity and radical wit of youth. In the last ten minutes, she gives some concrete recommendations for setting up a classroom that recognizes and values the gifts that students bring. Please check out her publications on ResearchGate [https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michelle_Fine ] and her latest book Just Research in Contentious Times (Teachers College, 2018). [https://www.amazon.com/Just-Research-Contentious-Times-Methodological/dp/0807758736/ ]

Michelle Fine is a Distinguished Professor of Critical Psychology, Women’s Studies, American Studies and Urban Education at the Graduate Center CUNY.

Thank you to Dr. Kim Case and Professor Tanya L. Domi."
michellefine  reasearch  dispossession  privilege  resistance  solidarity  participatory  participatoryactionresearch  ethnography  education  benjamindoxtdatorcritical  pedagogy  race  racism  postcolonialism  criticaltheory  imf  epistemology  research  focusgroups  subjectivity  youth  teens  stories  socialjustice  criticalparticipatoryactionresearch  sexuality  centering  oppression  pointofview  action  quantitative  qualitative  injustice  gender  deficit  resilience  experience  radicalism  incarceration  billclinton  pellgrants  willfulsubjectivity  survivance  wit  radicalwit  indigeneity  queer  justice  inquiry  hannaharendt  criticalbifocality  psychology  context  history  structures  gigeconomy  progressive  grit  economics  victimblaming  schools  intersectionality  apolitical  neoliberalism  neutrality  curriculum  objectivity  contestedhistories  whiteprivilege  whitefragility  islamophobia  discrimination  alienation  conversation  disengagement  defensiveness  anger  hatred  complexity  diversity  self-definition  ethnicity 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Maintenance — Cultural Anthropology
"Designed worlds are produced and maintained by human labor. As such, maintenance labor is a key site through which ethnographers might rethink the design of our own research.

* * *

Living in Ladera Heights
The black Beverly Hills
Domesticated paradise
Palm trees and pools
The water’s blue
Swallow a pill
Keepin’ it surreal

—Frank Ocean

In “Sweet Life,” the artist Frank Ocean sings of the affluent Los Angeles black enclave of Ladera Heights. He describes life for the city’s young middle-class black inhabitants as insulated and undisturbed: the sweet life.

A meter shift in Ocean’s vocals and music encroaches on the fiction of this “domesticated paradise.” The veneer of an unblemished pool and of svelte skirted Mexican palms is undone by the song’s chorus: “You’ve had a landscaper and a housekeeper since you were born.” Ocean’s analysis of a black middle-class subject works to make visible immigrant maintenance labor.

In Ramiro Gomez’s acclaimed series of artworks Happy Hills, the serenity of affluent West Los Angeles is similarly recast by making visible the unmarked labor of Latina and Latino immigrant laborers. Gomez, who worked as a nanny, plants life-sized cardboard cutouts of gardeners on the sidewalk hedges of Beverly Hills mansions and inserts domestic workers into the immaculate kitchens shown in the pages of magazines like Better Homes and Gardens.

Gomez and Ocean make palpable the relationship across Los Angeles’s suburbs between affluent and working-class, leisured and laboring subjects. In their works, disparate social and material worlds overlap by making explicit the maintenance labor performed by workers who are themselves alienated from the very places they enrich.

* * *

How is maintenance work, which is to say life-creating and time-freeing labor (such as the domestic and gardening labor of Latina and Latino immigrant workers), a site from which to theorize ethnography and design?

Maintenance, as Ocean and Gomez highlight, is the work of fiction. It is the repeated labor that creates a neat story about the way things naturally appear to be. Ethnography—as the practice of approaching material reality—is itself a practice of repetition, from repeated travels to the field and reconsulting with field notes to the writing and rewriting of a supposed reality. Maintenance labor, like ethnographic narratives, produce an image of the way things supposedly are by erasing the trace of its constant reworking; that is to say, it makes invisible the labor necessary for its construction. In the case of maintenance work, as Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo (2014) argues, labor is made invisible through its gendering and racialization. In the case of ethnography, on the other hand, the author works to remove their labor from the frame so as to represent an unvarnished texture of cultural difference. Or, as Kamala Visweswaran (1994, 1) puts it, the supposed division between fiction and ethnography “breaks down if we consider that ethnography, like fiction, constructs existing or possible worlds, all the while retaining the idea of an alternate ‘made’ world.”

Maintenance, for gardeners and domestic workers, involves the constant reworking of a lawn or the repeated wiping down of a kitchen counter—week after week, sometimes day after day. Conceiving of maintenance as the material accumulation of labor, resulting in well-fed plants or well-fed children, echoes what Keith Murphy and George Marcus (2013, 258) identify as “the complex processes” that designers and ethnographers undertake, which are “almost entirely obscured by the form of their products.” For maintenance, as for design and ethnography, the final products “receive most of the attention from those who consume them” (Murphy and Marcus 2013, 258). Yet there is a surplus contained in the seemingly invisible labor of maintenance.

For Latina and Latino immigrant gardeners, maintenance also means mantenimiento, a practice of organizing days into routes (rutas) and labor sites into divisions of labor shaped by differences in legal status, ethnicity, age, and ability between gardening company owners and their ayudantes or peónes (hired helpers). Mantenimiento reveals a practice of working around the designs of affluent gated neighborhoods, congested Southern California highways, imperatives of state exclusion, and the demands of homeowners and their plants. Mantenimiento challenges the naturalization of racialized and gendered labor, which forecloses the possibility of certain subjects being represented and casts laborers’ repeated reworkings as exacting and skilled labor.

Maintenance is the constant repetition of life-creating labor. As Kalindi Vora (2015) notes, reproductive and affective labor also contains traces of workers’ life activity that, although alienated from the laborers’ social world in order to enrich the lives of others, may retain a collection of stories and affective connections that happen in the service of others’ needs and that, for gardeners and domestic workers, occur in homes designed for others. Sometimes laborers take in excess of the demands of their labor, whether this occurs in the form of a gardener taking a botón of a succulent to reshape the landscape of their own or a domestic worker building a bond with an employer’s child; mantenimiento is attuned to the life that occurs in places where it is said not to exist.

* * *

My interest in maintenance as a concept that raises questions about ethnography and design arises from my experiences as a gardener and longtime manager of a small gardening company in Orange County. As a researcher, the parallels between my own repeated practices of maintenance labor and the repeated practices I employ in representing gardening laborers’ sociality are tethered to laborers’ careful design of their labor and lives."
maintenance  salvadorzárate  ethnography  design  anthropology  2018  via:shannon_mattern  labor  work  domesticworkers  gardening  gardeners  latinos  us  california  frankocean  laderaheights  losangeles  beverlyhills  westlosangeles  fiction  spanish  español  kalindivora  kamalavisweswaran  keithmurphy  georgemarcus  pierrettehondahneu-sotelo  socal 
july 2018 by robertogreco
A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance - YouTube
"(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv) Follow a team of UCLA anthropologists as they venture into the stuffed-to-capacity homes of dual income, middle-class American families in order to truly understand the food, toys, and clutter that fill them. Series: "A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance" [11/2013] [Humanities] [Show ID: 25712]"

[via: https://twitter.com/xraytext/status/999109157612646406 ]

[See also: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors
http://www.ioa.ucla.edu/press/life-at-home

and "Americans can spend a majority of their time in a few spaces in their home and still want large homes"
https://legallysociable.com/2018/06/03/americans-can-spend-a-majority-of-their-time-in-a-few-spaces-in-their-home-and-still-want-large-homes/

via: https://twitter.com/amandakhurley/status/1003283050782810113 ]
us  consumerism  consumption  hoarding  possessions  excess  2013  children  toys  accumulation  shopping  families  homes  housing  abundance  ethnography 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Worlds of sense and sensing the world: a response to Sarah Pink and David Howes
"In a recent debate with Sarah Pink in the pages of Social Anthropology, concerning the prospects for an anthropology that would highlight the work of the senses in human experience, David Howes objects to what I have myself written on this topic, specifically in my book The Perception of the Environment (Ingold 2000). In doing so, he distorts my arguments on six counts. In this brief response, I set the record straight on each count, and argue for a regrounding of the virtual worlds of sense, to which Howes directs our attention, in the practicalities of sensing the world."

[See also: "The future of sensory anthropology/the anthropology of the senses"
https://monoskop.org/images/5/54/Pink_Sarah_2010_The_Future_of_Sensory_Anthropology_The_Anthropology_of_the_Senses.pdf ]
sarahpink  davidhowes  sensoryethnography  senses  ethnography  socialsciences  multisensory  anthropology  timingold  2011  perception  phenomenology  visualstudies  culture  sensoryanthropology 
may 2018 by robertogreco
François Laplantine: The Life of the Senses: Introduction to a Modal Anthropology (2005/2015) — Monoskop Log
"“Both a vital theoretical work and a fine illustration of the principles and practice of sensory ethnography, this much anticipated translation is destined to figure as a major catalyst in the expanding field of sensory studies.

Drawing on his own fieldwork in Brazil and Japan and a wide range of philosophical, literary and cinematic sources, the author outlines his vision for a ‘modal anthropology’. François Laplantine challenges the primacy accorded to ‘sign’ and ‘structure’ in conventional social science research, and redirects attention to the tonalities and rhythmic intensities of different ways of living. Arguing that meaning, sensation and sociality cannot be considered separately, he calls for a ‘politics of the sensible’ and a complete reorientation of our habitual ways of understanding reality.”

First published as Le social et le sensible: introduction à une anthropologie modale, Téraèdre, Paris, 2005.

Translated by Jamie Furniss
With an Introduction by David Howes
Publisher Bloomsbury, London, 2015
Sensory Studies series, 1
ISBN 1472534808, 9781472534804
xviii+152 pages"

[pdf is here: http://b3.ge.tt/gett/8Sl1pZd2/Laplantine%2C+Fran%C3%A7ois+-+The+Life+of+the+Senses.+Introduction+to+a+Modal+Anthropology.pdf?index=0&user=user-rH02fRWtWbQcXRxjIcC63NpWQttph9o1slEf1-&pdf= ]
senses  books  françoislaplantine  sensoryethnography  multisensory  2005  2015  anthropology  modalanthropology  ethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Advances in Visual Methodology | SAGE Publications Inc
"Sarah Pink draws together in a single volume a set of key writings on advances and explorations that sit at the innovative edge of theory and practice in contemporary visual research. Advances in Visual Methodology presents a critical engagement with interdisciplinary practice in the field of visual research and representation, examining the development of visual methodology as a field of interdisciplinary and post-disciplinary practice that spans scholarly and applied concerns. The book explores how new practice-based, theoretical and methodological engagements are developing and emerging in research practice; the impact new approaches are having on the types of knowledge visual research produces and critiques; the ways visual research intersect with new media; and the implications of this for social and cultural research, scholarship and intervention."
sarahpink  books  visualethnography  digitalethnography  ethnography  visual  anthropology  research  visualresearch 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Ernst Karel | EAR ROOM
"Ernst Karel is an artist and researcher active in the fields of electroacoustic improvisation and composition, location recording, sound for nonfiction vilm, and solo and collaborative sound installations. Karel is currently lab manager for the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL) at Harvard University, where as lecturer on Anthropology, he teaches a course in sonic ethnography. For comprehensive information please visit: http://ek.klingt.org "
sensoryethnographylab  anthropology  art  audio  ethnography  sound  sense  sensoryethnography  ernstkarel  interviews 
may 2018 by robertogreco
DERC - Digital Ethnography Research Centre | Melbourne
"The Digital Ethnography Research Centre DERC focuses on understanding a contemporary world where digital and mobile technologies are increasingly inextricable from the environments and relationships in which everyday life plays out. DERC excels in both academic scholarship and in our applied work with external partners from industry and other sectors.

The Digital Ethnography Research Centre DERC focuses on understanding a contemporary world where digital and mobile technologies are increasingly inextricable from the environments and relationships in which everyday life plays out. DERC excels in both academic scholarship and in our applied work with external partners from industry and other sectors.

DERC approaches this world and how we experience it through innovative, reflexive and ethical ethnographic approaches, developed through anthropology, media and cultural studies, design, arts and documentary practice and games research.

Our research is incisive, interventional and internationally leading. Going beyond the call of pure academia we combine academic scholarship with applied practice to produce research, analysis and dissemination projects that are innovative and based on ethnographic insights.

DERC partners and collaborates with a range of institutions in Australia and globally, including other universities, companies and other organisations. This includes collaborative research projects, conferences, symposia and workshops, and international visits, fellowships and publications.

DERC members are aligned into Labs to represent their research interests, DERC Labs include:

• Data Ethnographies Lab
• Design+Ethnography+Futures (D+E+F) Lab
• Bio Inspired Digital Sensing-Lab (BIDS-Lab)
• Migration and Digital Media Lab

WHAT IS DIGITAL ETHNOGRAPHY?

Recognising the differential meanings and uses of the term ethnography across and between academic disciplines, DERC utilises a broad definition of ethnography that views ethnography as an approach for understanding the world that cannot be reduced to a single method. Through DERC, our aim is to engage in research and conversations that are committed to the following:

• transdisciplinary research that is inquiry-based;
• engagement with empirical research and/or materials;
• socially and historically contextualised analyses;
• comparison across local, national, regional and global frames.

DERC welcomes partnerships and collaborations with national and international centres with expertise in digital media and ethnography. Through research, workshops, talks and publications, we collectively seek to critically engage with and push the boundaries of ethnographic practice in, through and around digital media. To learn more about our perspectives on Digital Ethnography see our Introduction (Horst, Hjorth & Tacchi 2012) and articles by Sarah Pink and John Postill in the Special Issue of Media International Australia published in 2012."
ethnography  digital  digitalethnography  anthropology  online  web  internet  design  culture  documentary  games  gaming  videogames  transdisciplinary  inquiry  materiality  sarahpink  johnpostill 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Sarah Pink: A sensory Approach to Digital Media: beyond representation, beyond culture - YouTube
"A sensory Approach to Digital Media: beyond representation, beyond culture, Sarah Pink in DCC Section ECREA 3rd Workshop: Innovative practices and critical theories"
sarahpink  2011  ethnography  digitalmedia  senses  multisensory  culture  online  web  internet  anthropology  digital 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor - documenta 14
"Few filmmakers in recent years have managed to combine formal innovation with a programmatic stance toward filmmaking quite like Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. In the process of reinventing the relationship between their two fields of inquiry, anthropology and cinema, they have established an experimental laboratory and school at Harvard University, the Sensory Ethnography Lab. The films coming out of the lab take a decentered, nonanthropocentric approach to the visual practice of the moving image. Their camera does not focus primarily on humans as privileged actors in the world but rather on the fabric of affective relations among the natural elements, animals, technology, and our physical lifeworlds.

Their “nonnarrative epics” are meditative, trance-like journeys into unseen and alien aspects of our environments; they unearth a different order for the principles of knowledge and cinematographic language, one that is nonsignifying and nonhierarchical. Paravel and Castaing-Taylor’s Leviathan (2012), for instance, is a vertigo-inducing study of the human relationship to the sea, filmed by equipping a fishing boat with numerous cameras and devices. The decentering achieved in the film evokes mythologies of the sea, while also addressing urgent contemporary concerns regarding the place of the human in the cosmos and within a future ecology.

Paravel and Castaing-Taylor, born in 1971 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, and in 1966, in Liverpool, respectively, are premiering two new film installations at documenta 14. In Somniloquies (2017), their camera moves over sleeping, unguarded naked bodies while a soundtrack relays the sleep talk, nocturnal speculations, and orated dreams of Dion McGregor, a gay American songwriter whose hallucinatory, salacious, and sadistic dreams were recorded by his New York roommate over a seven-year period in the 1960s. Their second installation focuses on the controversial figure of Issei Sagawa, who gained notoriety in 1981 when, as a graduate student in Paris, he murdered a fellow student and engaged in acts of cannibalism. After his release from a mental institution, Sagawa returned to Japan, and later appeared in innumerable documentaries and sexploitation films. In contrast to earlier journalistic documentaries on Sagawa, the film by Paravel and Castaing-Taylor suspends moral judgment and explores a realm that eludes classification as either “documentary” or “pure fiction,” to instead chart the ambiguous territory between crime, fantasy, and social realities, between an individual and the economy of his public persona. Theirs is a filmmaking that ultimately renders the elements of nature and culture …

—Hila Peleg"
vérénaparavel  luciencastaing-taylor  film  cinema  sensoryethnography  documenta14  hilapeleg  filmmaking  ethnography  anthropology  documentary  isseisagawa  sagawa  dionmcgregor  senses  visualethnography  somniloquies  narrative  nature  animals  multispecies  bodies  non-narrative  sensoryethnographylab  body 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Doing Visual Ethnography | SAGE Publications Inc
"Essential reading for anyone wishing to engage with images, technologies and society, Doing Visual Ethnography is a milestone in ethnographic and visual research. The Third Edition of this classic text includes new chapters on web-based practices for visual ethnography and the issues surrounding the representation, interpretation, and authoring of knowledge with the rise of digital media.  

The book provides a foundation for thinking about visual ethnography and introduces the practical and theoretical issues relating to the visual and digital technologies used in the field.  

Drawing upon her original research and the experiences of other ethnographers, author Sarah Pink once again challenges our understanding of the world and sets new agendas for visual ethnography by:

- Helpfully illustrating key concepts within real world contexts
- Introducing examples from both analogue and digital media
- Exploring material and electronic texts
- Setting out the shift towards applied, participatory and public visual scholarship.  

This book is a must-have for students and researchers across the social sciences who are interested in incorporating audiovisual media into their research practice.
sarahpink  books  visualethnography  visual  ethnography  anthropology  digital  web  internet  online  digitalmedia  audiovisual  senses  sensoryethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Doing Sensory Ethnography | SAGE Publications Inc
"This bold agenda-setting title continues to spearhead interdisciplinary, multisensory research into experience, knowledge and practice.

Drawing on an explosion of new, cutting edge research Sarah Pink uses real world examples to bring this innovative area of study to life. She encourages us to challenge, revise and rethink core components of ethnography including interviews, participant observation and doing research in a digital world. The book provides an important framework for thinking about sensory ethnography stressing the numerous ways that smell, taste, touch and vision can be interconnected and interrelated within research. Bursting with practical advice on how to effectively conduct and share sensory ethnography this is an important, original book, relevant to all branches of social sciences and humanities."

[See also: http://caseyboyle.net/sense/pink01.pdf ]
sarahpink  books  sensoryethnography  senses  anthropology  ethnography  visualethnography  toread  multisensory  interdisciplinary  socialsicences  humanities 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Library Genesis: Anna Grimshaw - The Ethnographer's Eye: Ways of Seeing in Anthropology
"Grimshaw sets a new agenda for visual anthropology, attempting to transcend the old division between image and text-based ethnography. She argues for the use of vision as a critical tool with which anthropologists can address issues of knowledge and technique. The first part of the book critically examines anthropology's history, focusing on the work of key individuals--Rivers, Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown--in the context of early modern art and cinema. In the book's second part, Grimshaw considers the anthropological films of Jean Rouch, David and Judith MacDougall and Melissa Llewelyn-Davies."
annagrimshaw  ethnography  visualanthropology  anthropology  jeanrouch  davidmacdougall  judithmacdougall  melissallewelyn-davies  cinema  film  filmmaking  seeing  waysofseeing  visualethnography  senses  sensoryethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Filmmaking with visual ethnography - an interview with Sarah Pink on Vimeo
"This video is an interview with Sarah Pink, Professor at RMIT and author of books such as 'Doing Visual Ethnography' and 'Doing Sensory Ethnography'. If you are interested in how to use visual ethnography as an aproach of filmmaking, then you will get some great notions on how to grasp this method. The topics we have asked Sarah Pink about is as following:

• Key principles
• Research and storytelling
• Most common mistakes
• Method and process
• Who is the audience?
• Sharing your work
• The future

Hope you will enjoy these tips!

The video is made by Dennis Haladyn and Thomas Legald at Roskilde University, Denmark - April 2015."
sarahpink  ethnography  2015  visual  visualethnography 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Cumulative culture in nonhumans: overlooked findings from Japanese monkeys? | SpringerLink
"Daniel P. Schofield, William C. McGrew, Akiko Takahashi, Satoshi Hirata"



"Cumulative culture, generally known as the increasing complexity or efficiency of cultural behaviors additively transmitted over successive generations, has been emphasized as a hallmark of human evolution. Recently, reviews of candidates for cumulative culture in nonhuman species have claimed that only humans have cumulative culture. Here, we aim to scrutinize this claim, using current criteria for cumulative culture to re-evaluate overlooked qualitative but longitudinal data from a nonhuman primate, the Japanese monkey (Macaca fuscata). We review over 60 years of Japanese ethnography of Koshima monkeys, which indicate that food-washing behaviors (e.g., of sweet potato tubers and wheat grains) seem to have increased in complexity and efficiency over time. Our reassessment of the Koshima ethnography is preliminary and nonquantitative, but it raises the possibility that cumulative culture, at least in a simple form, occurs spontaneously and adaptively in other primates and nonhumans in nature."

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdja9w0nBdm/ ]
multispecies  morethanhuman  animals  ethnography  macques  japan  food  foodprocessing  traditions  culture  cumulativeculture  anthropology  2017  behavior 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Cartoon abstract: Ethnography? Participant observation, a potentially revolutionary praxis - LSE Research Online
"A comic strip visualisation of the 2017 article Ethnography? Participant observation, a potentially revolutionary praxis by Alpa Shah from the journal HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory. Made possible by the article being published under a Creative Commons licence"

["Ethnography? Participant observation, a potentially revolutionary praxis," by Alpa Shah
https://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/hau7.1.008

"This essay focuses on the core of ethnographic research—participant observation—to argue that it is a potentially revolutionary praxis because it forces us to question our theoretical presuppositions about the world, produce knowledge that is new, was confined to the margins, or was silenced. It is argued that participant observation is not merely a method of anthropology but is a form of production of knowledge through being and action; it is praxis, the process by which theory is dialectically produced and realized in action. Four core aspects of participation observation are discussed as long duration (long-term engagement), revealing social relations of a group of people (understanding a group of people and their social processes), holism (studying all aspects of social life, marking its fundamental democracy), and the dialectical relationship between intimacy and estrangement (befriending strangers). Though the risks and limits of participant observation are outlined, as are the tensions between activism and anthropology, it is argued that engaging in participant observation is a profoundly political act, one that can enable us to challenge hegemonic conceptions of the world, challenge authority, and better act in the world."]

[via:
"A comic adaptation of 'participant observation as a potentially revolutionary praxis,' my @haujournal essay on ethnography! Thanks @kazmantra and @LSELibrary! @davidgraeber @MikeSav47032563 @AmEthno @AmericanAnthro @britsoci @TheSocReview @CMcGranahan @culanth @news4anthros"
https://twitter.com/alpashah001/status/948233738483388417 ]
ethnography  karenrubins  alpashah  anthropology  srg  comics  2017  research  observation 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Macarena Gómez-Barris
"Macarena Gómez-Barris is Professor and Chairperson of Social Science and Cultural Studies at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. She is also Director of the Global South Center (GSC), a research center that works at the intersection of social ecologies, art / politics, and decolonial methodologies. Her instructional focus is on Latinx and Latin American Studies, memory and the afterlives of violence, decolonial theory, the art of social protest, and queer femme epistemes.

Macarena is author of Where Memory Dwells: Culture and State Violence in Chile (2009), co-editor with Herman Gray of Towards a Sociology of the Trace (2010), The Extractive Zone: Social Ecologies and Decolonial Perspectives (2017) and Beyond the Pink Tide: Art and Politics in the Americas (forthcoming UC Press, 2018).

Gómez-Barris is series editor, with Diana Taylor, of Dissident Acts, a Duke University Press Series, and was Fulbright Fellow at FLACSO-Quito in Ecuador (2014–15). She is the current co-editor with Marcial Godoy-Anatavia of e-misférica, an online trilingual journal on hemispheric art and politics (NYU). And, she is a member of the Social Text journal collective.

At Pratt Institute, she works with a vibrant community of scholars, activists, intellectuals, and students to find alternatives to the impasses produced by racial and extractive capitalism."



"THE EXTRACTIVE ZONE: SOCIAL ECOLOGIES AND DECOLONIAL PERSPECTIVES
In The Extractive Zone Macarena Gómez-Barris traces the political, aesthetic, and performative practices that emerge in opposition to the ruinous effects of extractive capital. The work of Indigenous activists, intellectuals, and artists in spaces Gómez-Barris labels extractive zones—majority indigenous regions in South America noted for their biodiversity and long history of exploitative natural resource extraction—resist and refuse the terms of racial capital and the continued legacies of colonialism. Extending decolonial theory with race, sexuality, and critical Indigenous studies, Gómez-Barris develops new vocabularies for alternative forms of social and political life. She shows how from Colombia to southern Chile artists like filmmaker Huichaqueo Perez and visual artist Carolina Caycedo formulate decolonial aesthetics. She also examines the decolonizing politics of a Bolivian anarcho-feminist collective and a coalition in eastern Ecuador that protects the region from oil drilling. In so doing, Gómez-Barris reveals the continued presence of colonial logics and locates emergent modes of living beyond the boundaries of destructive extractive capital. Published by Duke University Press."



"BEYOND THE PINK TIDE
In times of deep uncertainty and chaos, how can we rethink, revise, and remake politics? Beyond the Pink Tide cautions our overinvestment in national electoral processes and its crashing ebbs and flows to expand the meaning of politics. I examine a constellation of sites, texts, and movements that reveal how the project of social and economic transformation exists beyond state regime change. In particular, I show how the alternatives posed by the recent electoral wave of Left-leaning Latin American states often called “The Pink Tide” do not exhaust the terrain of current progressive and radical political potential in the Americas. How do artistic and political undercurrents offer another course of action? This book describes how dissenting art and social expressions redefine the realm of the political. Published by University of California Press."



"WHERE MEMORY DWELLS
The 1973 military coup in Chile deposed the democratically elected Salvador Allende and installed a dictatorship that terrorized the country for almost twenty years. Subsequent efforts to come to terms with the national trauma have resulted in an outpouring of fiction, art, film, and drama. In this ethnography, Macarena Gómez-Barris examines cultural sites and representations in postdictatorship Chile—what she calls "memory symbolics"—to uncover the impact of state-sponsored violence. She surveys the concentration camp turned memorial park, Villa Grimaldi, documentary films, the torture paintings of Guillermo Núñez, and art by Chilean exiles, arguing that two contradictory forces are at work: a desire to forget the experiences and the victims, and a powerful need to remember and memorialize them. By linking culture, nation, and identity, Gómez-Barris shows how those most affected by the legacies of the dictatorship continue to live with the presence of violence in their bodies, in their daily lives, and in the identities they pass down to younger generations. Published by University of California Press."



"TOWARD A SOCIOLOGY OF THE TRACE
Editors: Herman Gray and Macarena Gómez-Barris

Using culture as an entry point, and informed by the work of contemporary social theorists, the essays in this volume identify and challenge sites where the representational dimension of social life produces national identity through scripts of belonging, or traces.

The contributors utilize empirically based studies of social policy, political economy, and social institutions to offer a new way of looking at the creation of meaning, representation, and memory. They scrutinize subjects such as narratives in the U.S. coal industry's change from digging mines to removing mountaintops; war-related redress policies in post-World War II Japan; views of masculinity linked to tequila, Pancho Villa, and the Mexican Revolution; and the politics of subjectivity in 1970s political violence in Thailand. Published by University of Minnesota Press.

Contributors: Sarah Banet-Weiser, U of Southern California; Barbara A. Barnes, U of California, Berkeley; Marie Sarita Gaytán; Avery F. Gordon, U of California, Santa Barbara; Tanya McNeill, U of California, Santa Cruz; Sudarat Musikawong, Willamette U; Akiko Naono, U of Kyushu; Rebecca R. Scott, U of Missouri."
macarenagómez-barris  capitalism  chile  latinamerica  sociology  trace  decolonization  art  politics  culture  society  ethnography  film  alvadorallende  pinochet 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis — It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains
"Miller never bothers to define all the modes, and we will consider them more below. But for now, we should just note that the entire model is based on design consulting: You try to understand the client’s problem, what he or she wants or needs. You sharpen that problem so it’s easier to solve. You think of ways to solve it. You try those solutions out to see if they work. And then once you’ve settled on something, you ask your client for feedback. By the end, you’ve created a “solution,” which is also apparently an “innovation.”

Miller also never bothers to define the liberal arts. The closest he comes is to say they are ways of “thinking that all students should be exposed to because it enhances their understanding of everything else.” Nor does he make clear what he means by the idea that Design Thinking is or could be the new liberal arts. Is it but one new art to be added to the traditional liberal arts, such as grammar, logic, rhetoric, math, music, and science? Or does Miller think, like Hennessy and Kelly, that all of education should be rebuilt around the DTs? Who knows.

Miller is most impressed with Design Thinking’s Empathize Mode. He writes lyrically, “Human-centered design redescribes the classical aim of education as the care and tending of the soul; its focus on empathy follows directly from Rousseau’s stress on compassion as a social virtue.” Beautiful. Interesting.

But what are we really talking about here? The d.school’s An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE says, “The Empathize Mode is the work you do to understand people, within the context of your design challenge.” We can use language like “empathy” to dress things up, but this is Business 101. Listen to your client; find out what he or she wants or needs.

Miller calls the Empathize Mode “ethnography,” which is deeply uncharitable — and probably offensive — to cultural anthropologists who spend their entire lives learning how to observe other people. Few, if any, anthropologists would sign onto the idea that some amateurs at a d.school “boot camp,” strolling around Stanford and gawking at strangers, constitutes ethnography. The Empathize Mode of Design Thinking is roughly as ethnographic as a marketing focus group or a crew of sleazoid consultants trying to feel out and up their clients’ desires.

What Miller, Kelly, and Hennessy are asking us to imagine is that design consulting is or could be a model for retooling all of education, that it has some method for “producing reliably innovative results in any field.” They believe that we should use Design Thinking to reform education by treating students as customers, or clients, and making sure our customers are getting what they want. And they assert that Design Thinking should be a central part of what students learn, so that graduates come to approach social reality through the model of design consulting. In other words, we should view all of society as if we are in the design consulting business."



In recent episode of the Design Observer podcast, Jen added further thoughts on Design Thinking. “The marketing of design thinking is completely bullshit. It’s even getting worse and worse now that [Stanford has] three-day boot camps that offer certified programs — as if anyone who enrolled in these programs can become a designer and think like a designer and work like a designer.” She also resists the idea that any single methodology “can deal with any kind of situation — not to mention the very complex society that we’re in today.”

In informal survey I conducted with individuals who either teach at or were trained at the top art, architecture, and design schools in the USA, most respondents said that they and their colleagues do not use the term Design Thinking. Most of the people pushing the DTs in higher education are at second- and third-tier universities and, ironically, aren’t innovating but rather emulating Stanford. In afew cases, respondents said they did know a colleague or two who was saying “Design Thinking” frequently, but in every case, the individuals were using the DTs either to increase their turf within the university or to extract resources from college administrators who are often willing to throw money at anything that smacks of “innovation.”

Moreover, individuals working in art, architecture, and design schools tend to be quite critical of existing DT programs. Reportedly, some schools are creating Design Thinking tracks for unpromising students who couldn’t hack it in traditional architecture or design programs — DT as “design lite.” The individuals I talked to also had strong reservations about the products coming out of Design Thinking classes. A traditional project in DT classes involves undergraduate students leading “multidisciplinary” or “transdisciplinary” teams drawing on faculty expertise around campus to solve some problem of interest to the students. The students are not experts in anything, however, and the projects often take the form of, as one person put it, “kids trying to save the world.”

One architecture professor I interviewed had been asked to sit in on a Design Thinking course’s critique, a tradition at architecture and design schools where outside experts are brought in to offer (often tough) feedback on student projects. The professor watched a student explain her design: a technology that was meant to connect mothers with their premature babies who they cannot touch directly. The professor wondered, what is the message about learning that students get from such projects? “I guess the idea is that this work empowers the students to believe they are applying their design skills,” the professor told me. “But I couldn’t critique it as design because there was nothing to it as design. So what’s left? Is good will enough?

As others put it to me, Design Thinking gives students an unrealistic idea of design and the work that goes into creating positive change. Upending that old dictum “knowledge is power,” Design Thinkers giver their students power without knowledge, “creative confidence” without actual capabilities.

It’s also an elitist, Great White Hope vision of change that literally asks students to imagine themselves entering a situation to solve other people’s problems. Among other things, this situation often leads to significant mismatch between designers’ visions — even after practicing “empathy” — and users’ actual needs. Perhaps the most famous example is the PlayPump, a piece of merry-go-round equipment that would pump water when children used it. Designers envisioned that the PlayPump would provide water to thousands of African communities. Only kids didn’t show up, including because there was no local cultural tradition of playing with merry-go-rounds.

Unsurprisingly, Design Thinking-types were enthusiastic about the PlayPump. Tom Hulme, the design director at IDEO’s London office, created a webpage called OpenIDEO, where users could share “open source innovation.” Hulme explained that he found himself asking, “What would IDEO look like on steroids? [We might ask the same question about crack cocaine or PCP.] What would it look like when you invite everybody into everything? I set myself the challenge of . . . radical open-innovation collaboration.” OpenIDEO community users were enthusiastic about the PlayPump — even a year after the system had been debunked, suggesting inviting everyone to everything gets you people who don’t do research. One OpenIDEO user enthused that the PlayPump highlighted how “fun can be combined with real needs.”

Thom Moran, an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the University of Michigan, told me that Design Thinking brought “a whole set of values about what design’s supposed to look like,” including that everything is supposed to be “fun” and “play,” and that the focus is less on “what would work.” Moran went on, “The disappointing part for me is that I really do believe that architecture, art, and design should be thought of as being a part of the liberal arts. They provide a unique skill set for looking at and engaging the world, and being critical of it.” Like others I talked to, Moran doesn’t see this kind of critical thinking in the popular form of Design Thinking, which tends to ignore politics, environmental issues, and global economic problems.

Moran holds up the Swiffer — the sweeper-mop with disposable covers designed by an IDEO-clone design consultancy, Continuum — as a good example of what Design Thinking is all about. “It’s design as marketing,” he said. “It’s about looking for and exploiting a market niche. It’s not really about a new and better world. It’s about exquisitely calibrating a product to a market niche that is underexploited.” The Swiffer involves a slight change in old technologies, and it is wasteful. Others made this same connection between Design Thinking and marketing. One architect said that Design Thinking “really belongs in business schools, where they teach marketing and other forms of moral depravity.”

“That’s what’s most annoying,” Moran went on. “I fundamentally believe in this stuff as a model of education. But it’s business consultants who give TED Talks who are out there selling it. It’s all anti-intellectual. That’s the problem. Architecture and design are profoundly intellectual. But for these people, it’s not a form of critical thought; it’s a form of salesmanship.”

Here’s my one caveat: it could be true that the DTs are a good way to teach design or business. I wouldn’t know. I am not a designer (or business school professor). I am struck, however, by how many designers, including Natasha Jen and Thom Moran, believe that the DTs are nonsense. In the end, I will leave this discussion up to designers. It’s their show. My concern is a different one — namely that… [more]
designthinking  innovation  ideas  2017  design  leevinsel  maintenance  repair  ideation  problemsolving  davidedgerton  willthomas  billburnett  daveevans  stanford  d.school  natashajen  herbertsimon  robertmckim  ideo  singularity  singularityuniversity  d.tech  education  schools  teaching  liberalarts  petermiller  esaleninstitute  newage  hassoplattner  johnhennessey  davidkelly  jimjones  empathy  ethnography  consulting  business  bullshit  marketing  snakeoil  criticism  criticalthinking  highereducation  highered  thomamoran  tedtalks  openideo  playpump  designimperialism  whitesaviors  post-its  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  art  architecture  complexity  simplicity  methodology  process  emptiness  universities  colleges  philipmirowski  entrepreneurship  lawrencebusch  elizabethpoppberman  nathanielcomfort  margaretbrindle  peterstearns  christophermckenna  hucksterism  self-promotion  hype  georgeorwell  nathanrosenberg  davidmowery  stevenklepper  davidhounshell  patrickmccray  marianamazzucato  andréspicer  humanitariandesign  themaintainers  ma 
december 2017 by robertogreco
BBC Radio 4 - Thinking Allowed - Ethnography – What is it and why do we need it?
"‘You just want a holiday, don’t you?’

‘You just want a holiday, don’t you?’ – This is the not uncommon response from the uninitiated when one is embarking on a faraway ethnography project. It was in any event what a university employee asked me as I was setting off to conduct research on maritime migration into southern Europe – with first stop being, erm, the Spanish Canary Islands.

Aside from my unfortunate choice of initial destination, those who compare ethnography to a spot of vacationing do have a point: ethnographers in action can sometimes look distinctly like layabouts with too much time on their hands. You might spot them on a street corner, smoking with a bunch of ne’er-do-wells or pin-striped investment bankers, or catch them lazing about in a teahouse, a pub or a palm-fronded village. But as the ethnographers smoke their fags or sip their tea (or beer), what you don’t see is the mental gymnastics as they figure out how to enter the world of a street con artist, a body-builder or a stock broker. As one anthropologist once told a class of aspiring ethnographers, it’s all rather like being a teenager again: spending time trying to fit in and befriend perfect strangers.

Still, it can be good fun. Try it for yourself – a few minutes during your daily commute will do. Start off by observing other commuters stream past. How do they interact with each other, with the gates and the workers, and how can you tell them apart? Who is relaxed, who is stressed out, who glances anxiously about? Then join them in the rush: feel and sense what it’s like to be a commuter – the squash, the pushing, the rank armpits, the blinking smartphones and the freesheets held up as shields against intruding humanity. Observe it all. Sense it all. Then, finally, befriend those perfect strangers. Repeat next day. And the day after that. A year of this and you might be done and dusted.

Besides such ‘participant observation’, most of what ethnographers do is writing, writing, writing. Not just finished books or articles, but ‘field notes’ – scrawled into notebooks or typed on to a laptop, as I did when travelling the Euro-African borderlands on a quest to understand the interlocked worlds of undocumented migration and border controls. After a day volunteering in the migrant camp of Ceuta, a tiny Spanish enclave in North Africa – interpreting for the camp workers, answering migrants’ anxious questions, hanging about being generally useless – I’d rush home to type furiously on my wobbly Eee PC. As I travelled along clandestine African trails, I scrawled notes at the back of the bumpy four-wheel drives of Senegalese border police; and as I crossed the tall border fences surrounding Ceuta, the Spanish border guard accompanying me advised that I hide my notepad to avoid rousing suspicion among his Moroccan colleagues. It didn’t help much: next time I showed up a soldier waved his gun at me, but no matter. Weaving between camp life, border fences and surly soldiers was all in a day’s work – much as other ethnographers spend their time crouching among farmworkers in the fields, sneaking into the secret world of Wall Street or learning the art of sorcery on the edge of the Sahara.

Ethnography, then, is straying out of our comfort zone in order to understand another social world. It is a messy, fuzzy, tough and accident-prone line of business, as the young sociologist Alice Goffman realised when critics started tearing into her bestselling On the Run, a riveting ethnography about the causes and effects of constant police crackdowns in a poor black American neighbourhood. One journalist, frustrated with how Goffman had anonymised her data – and so made her text unverifiable – hit out at her methods, calling ethnography ‘an uncomfortable hybrid of impressionistic data gathering, soft-focus journalism with even a dash of creative writing’.

Besides their more valid concerns, some such critics of Goffman’s book were trying to read it as a piece of reportage that principally pointed a finger of blame. But ethnography is not a journalistic exposé. Rather than dig for killer facts, good ethnographers aim to uncover something deeper about how a society or subculture works – and it does so by changing perspective to that of the insider. We have to suspend disbelief and shift our gaze: what is the world really like when, during your every waking moment, you feel the police are out to get you? As Goffman took us into the street lives of young African Americans afraid to visit the hospital because they might get arrested, she conveyed to us these men’s view of the authorities, of the world and of their precarious place in it.

This understanding cannot come about through a social survey or a piece of investigative reporting alone. We have to stick around and listen, observe and participate, one awkward step at a time. It may be messy and imperfect, yet it opens up worlds that will otherwise remain locked to outsiders.

Ethnography is research on the slow boil – something that’s getting harder to justify at a time when our public debate increasingly favours the quick flash in the pan. Yet amid calls for more media soundbites, ready-made research metrics and pre-cooked policy ‘solutions’, this is precisely why we need it more than ever."
via:anne  2017  ethnography  rubenanderson  srg  slow  slowness  research  alicegoffman  sociology  anthropology 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Sensory Maps
"My name is Kate McLean, an artist and designer, creator of smellmaps of cities around the world. I focus on human perception of the urban smellscape. While the visual dominates in data representation I believe we should tap into alternative sensory modes for individual and shared interpretation of place.

Smells form part of our knowing, but are elusive, often disappearing before they can be described pinned down. Smell perception is an invisible and currently under-presented dataset with strong connections to emotions and memory. I am part of a small but growing number of innovative practitioners committed to the study and capture of this highly nuanced sensory field.

The tools of my trade include: individual group smellwalks, individual smellwalks (the “smellfie”), smell sketching, collaborative smellwalks, graphic design, motion graphics, smell generation and smell diffusion, all united by mapmaking. Download a copy of my smellfie guide to smellwalking.

In 2014 I worked with Mapamundistas in Pamplona creating a bespoke piece of design in situ late in October 2014 and year of “Smellmap: Amsterdam” research collaboration with Bernardo (Brian) Fleming of International Flavors and Fragrances saw a summary exhibition at Mediamatic in April 2014 and at IEEE VIS 2014 Arts Programme in Paris in November 2014.

This year I am working on a unique sensory audit with Guy’s Hospital and St. Thomas’ / FutureCity to generate a London Bridge smellmap for the KHP Cancer Arts Programme and am busy analysing the data and information from smellwalking in Singapore.

I am a PhD candidate (part-time) in Information Experience Design (IED) a the Royal College of Art, a marathon runner and snowboarder."

[via: https://twitter.com/the_jennitaur/status/930267808599961600

"where has this been all my life http://sensorymaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Smellwalk_Intro_Kit_%C2%A9KateMcLean_2015.pdf "]

[See also: https://twitter.com/katemclean ]
maps  mapping  datavisualization  visualization  dataviz  cartography  katemclean  sensory  senses  classideas  cities  sense  mapmaking  smell  sensoryethnography  ethnography 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Cyd Harrell on Twitter: "just putting a note here to make my next rant about the "warm neutral" communication style & how important it is to my practice"
"just putting a note here to make my next rant about the "warm neutral" communication style & how important it is to my practice

so, about warm neutral - it's my intentional communication posture for any interaction where my job is mainly listening.../1

so user research, hiring interviews, 1:1s as a manager, escalations I take at work, etc. I think most people won't be surprised by 1:1s /2

but I've been with a few people recently who were surprised by my using warm neutral in hiring interviews. I think it's really effective /3

for similar reasons, it's effective in user research - if done well, it puts people at ease, makes them feel heard (as opposed to judged) /4

it shows you're interested without being creepy or directing, & it encourages the person to keep talking about what they're talking about /5

I should probably say what it is: warm-neutral listening is present, receptive, and positive. it doesn't show a ton of surprise /6

it *does* show interest, but it doesn't add a lot of comments. it's not too heavy on reflections back; it asks questions, politely. /7

it's fine to smile or nod when you're dong warm-neutral, if those things are authentic for you; it's not fine to freak about an answer... /8

whether you are positively or negatively excited, variations of smiles and nods and receptive body language are all you should do. /9

you can acknowledge problems and frustrations, & I personally think it's fine to show excitement about tangential things.../10

like if you're in a remote research session, loving the participant's desktop photo is fine & easily segues into the right neutral /11

or if you're researching travel planning, saying their destination sounds amazing (but staying neutral about their planning process) /12

in a hiring interview, it's not a poker face; it's an encouragement to keep talking *even if you didn't like what you just heard* /13

I want people to leave a hiring interview with me feeling like they had a friendly conversation and that they were heard... /14

*I* want to leave a hiring interview with good sense of what the candidate will say if they believe they're being well received /15

that tends to make great candidates look better, and problematic ones look more problematic, so it's a win as far as I'm concerned /16

& it's all about a friendly even keel. warm neutral takes emotional work of course, but I don't think it takes more than cold neutral /17

it does take practice. I practice on chatty people on planes & busses (if I'm feeling up to it) or on people who talk a lot /18

I think the best reference I've ever seen about it is this @ftrain piece https://medium.com/message/how-to-be-polite-9bf1e69e888c … which has a slightly different angle /19

anyway, I think people often believe that being neutral means you shouldn't be warm, and I think that's usually not right. you can. /F"
interviewing  hiring  communication  via:kissane  2017  cydharrell  listening  ethnography  research  neutrality 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Ethnographies of Conferences and Trade Fairs - Shaping | Hege Høyer Leivestad | Springer
"This anthology is an attempt to make sense of conferences and trade fairs as phenomena in contemporary society. The authors describe how these large-scale professional gatherings have become key sites for making and negotiating both industries and individual professions. In fact, during the past few decades, conferences and trade fairs have become a significant global industry in their own right. The editors assert that large-scale professional gatherings are remarkable events that require deeper analysis and scholarly attention."

[via: https://twitter.com/AlJavieera/status/883044558099030016 ]
ethnography  conferences  tradefairs  economics  via:javierarbona  books  attention  academia  scholarship  professionalization  highered  highereducation 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Getting Others Right - The New York Times
"A woman holds a little dog in the crook of her arm. Her sleeveless open-necked top is richly patterned. She wears lipstick, earrings, a bangle. The dog, a puppy perhaps, is both alert and relaxed, looking directly at the camera, just as the woman does. The photograph has such an informal mood, such disarming warmth, that we might suppose it had been made recently, were it not in antique-looking black and white. It’s wonderful when an old picture lets us in like this, obliterating the distance between its then and our now.

The woman in this photograph was named Trecil Poolaw Unap, and the photographer was her brother, Horace Poolaw. They were Kiowa, born and raised in Oklahoma. Horace Poolaw made the photograph in 1928, near the beginning of a career in which he went on to become an avid photographer of Native American life. His photographs, some of which he sold at fairs, often came with a stamp: “A Poolaw Photo, Pictures by an Indian, Horace M. Poolaw, Anadarko, Okla.” It was clear that he wanted to assert that these were pictures with a particular point of view.

Compare the portrait by Poolaw with a few made in the same decade by the most famous photographer of Native Americans, Edward S. Curtis. Curtis’s portraits look different because they were intended for publication in “The North American Indian,” a hugely expensive and intricate photographic undertaking that occupied him for decades. The project was championed by Theodore Roosevelt and financially supported by J.P. Morgan. There’s a portrait of a Hupa woman wearing fur and beads, another of an elderly Cheyenne man in a feathered headdress, yet another of a female Hupa shaman. The lined faces and stoic expressions of these sitters, as well as their “traditional” regalia, announce them as types. They are in keeping with the hope Curtis expressed in the General Introduction to his project: “Rather than being designed for mere embellishment, the photographs are each an illustration of an Indian character or of some vital phase in his existence.”

There’s no denying the meticulous beauty of Curtis’s pictures (and there are thousands of them: The project, published between 1907 and 1930, ran to 20 volumes). But his approach, as laid out in his introduction, was precisely the opposite of Horace Poolaw’s, and it shows: When we look at Trecil Poolaw Unap with her dog, with her ironic smile, we don’t think of her as an “illustration of an Indian character,” nor do we surmise that she is caught in some “vital phase” of her existence. A certain ease and immediacy sets her apart from the beautiful but frozen characters that populate Curtis’s work.

The case of Edward S. Curtis is complex. He was no dilettante: He made serious ethnographic studies of indigenous communities, from the Piegan of the Great Plains to the Kwakiutl of Vancouver Island. And in the 1920s in New Mexico, he became involved in political initiatives that sought to defend Native Americans against government control. But the general tenor of his work idealized Native Americans in the name of preserving vanishing ways of life. He was not above removing, through later photographic manipulation, an offending clock from a carefully arranged scene. Curtis, a knowledgeable and determined man, knew exactly how he liked his Indians.

Horace Poolaw, in contrast, made pictures that were great in their testimonial simplicity and democracy of vision; a relaxed group of Kiowa and Cherokee deacons in slacks and jackets, his son Jerry on leave from Navy duty in his sailor’s uniform and a feathered headdress. Curtis, meanwhile, was inclined to invent scenarios, expunging inconvenient details in order to emphasize a concept of primitivism. One photographer thus gave us lively pictures of life as it was being lived, and the other, at much greater cost and with much more ambition, ended up delivering stilted images of dubious value. Is the lesson here that the truth of a given community can only be delivered by an insider?

A century on, the conundrum remains. There are now many Native American photographers doing outstanding work, bringing to their seeing all the advantages of insider knowledge. Brian Adams is an Inuit photographer of Inuit culture, with a body of work characterized by inquisitiveness and joy. Some of the most rousing photographs of the Standing Rock protests were taken by Josué Rivas, who is Mexica, and Camille Seaman, of the Shinnecock tribe.

But for outsiders to any culture, the situation remains tricky. Take the British photographer Jimmy Nelson, whose “Before They Pass Away” was published as a lush large-format coffee table book in 2013 and has since become ubiquitous in bookstores around the world. “Before They Pass Away” is made explicitly in homage to Edward S. Curtis, whom Nelson often cites as a hero. It proceeds from the same idea as Curtis’s: that certain peoples, on the verge of disappearing, must be captured in illustrative, archetypal photographs. “Before They Pass Away” is accordingly full of postcard-pretty images of the Mursi in Ethiopia, the Huaorani in Ecuador, the Dani in Indonesia. The sitters look out mutely from Nelson’s ark, and scant concession is made to the fact of their contemporaneity. They occasionally tote guns, but do they use boat engines or watch television? If they have any mobile phones, they’re hidden away. What we get, instead, is feathers, fur, cowrie shells, leaves and lots of body paint.

Like Curtis — but without Curtis’s ethnographic rigor — Nelson places his subjects in a permanent anthropological past, erasing their present material and political realities. He is sentimental about those he photographs and often proclaims their beauty, but having invested himself so deeply in the idea of their “disappearance,” he is unable to believe that they are not going anywhere, that they are simply adapting to the modern world. No wonder he is flummoxed by the various tribal leaders who have protested the inaccuracy of his pictures.

What a relief it is then to consider a markedly different project, by the American photographer Daniella Zalcman. In 2016, she published “Signs of Your Identity,” a book featuring First Nations Canadians. But by her own admission, she had a false start. For a month in 2014, Zalcman (who, I should mention, was an acquaintance of mine in college, though I only recently re-encountered her through her work) photographed indigenous Canadians who were struggling with substance abuse and H.I.V. The images she came away with, she thought, risked further stigmatizing the community. When she returned the following year, she began to explore a different story, one that was urgent but that also allowed her to focus on individual experience.

That project was about indigenous people who had been forced to attend Canada’s Indian Residential Schools during the 19th century (the last of which closed only in 1996). Young children were taken from their families and placed in these institutions to enforce their assimilation into mainstream Canadian culture. Indigenous languages were suppressed, and physical and sexual assaults were common. Zalcman interviewed several dozen people, of varying ages, who had spent time in these schools and were haunted by their memories.

Zalcman’s challenge was how to make these memories visible. Her solution, as old-fashioned as it was elegant, was to make double exposures, joining two instants into one by overlaying images of places with portraits of people. She presented these double exposures with written fragments of her interviews with the sitters. Looking at the doubled images, you imagine that the mind of the person pictured is literally occupied by space on which it is overlaid: the decrepit school buildings, the grass where a demolished school once stood. But you also sense that this could be you, that these images are not a report on tribal peculiarities but on the workings of human memory. Uncertain about her right to shape the story, Zalcman lets the subjects speak for themselves. This hesitancy is productive: She manages to accomplish quietly forceful reportage from material that could easily have been sensationalized.

Sympathy is often not enough. It can be condescending. But taking on the identity of others, appropriating what is theirs, is invasive and frequently violent. I have heard appropriation defended on the grounds that we have a responsibility to tell one another’s stories and must be free to do so. This is a seductive but flawed argument. The responsibility toward other people’s stories is real and inescapable, but that doesn’t mean that appropriation is the way to satisfy that responsibility. In fact, the opposite is true: Telling the stories in which we are complicit outsiders has to be done with imagination and skepticism. It might require us not to give up our freedom, but to prioritize justice over freedom. It is not about taking something that belongs to someone else and making it serve you but rather about recognizing that history is brutal and unfinished and finding some way, within that recognition, to serve the dispossessed.

Photography is particularly treacherous when it comes to righting wrongs, because it is so good at recording appearances. Capturing how things look fools us into thinking that we’ve captured their truth. But appearance is bare fact. Combined with intuition, scrupulous context and moral intelligence, it has a chance to become truth. Unalloyed, it is worse than nothing."
tejucole  photography  2017  ethnography  othering  time  memory  appropriation  edwardcurtis  horacepoolaw  nativeamericans  jimmynelson  sympathy  daniellazalcman  storytelling  condescension  context  dispossession  identity  complexity  memories 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Significant Others - How Animals Matter in Children's Everyday Lives (AniMate; 2017-2019) by Pauliina Rautio - Research Project on ResearchGate
"Institutions: University of Oulu

Goal: The objective of AniMate is to understand the ways in which animals matter to children as parts of their everyday lives. With this information child–animal relations can be supported even in the midst of societal and environmental changes.

Previous studies confirm that animal contacts have undeniably positive effects in children's lives but that these contacts are decreasing. Furthermore, it is still unknown how significant child-animal relations form and are sustained in children's daily life - how these relations matter to children beyond the adult-imposed viewpoint of
'development'.

AniMate takes children's views of what matters in their everyday life seriously. Core data are in-depth multispecies ethnographies conducted in four locations with 10-12 participating children and the animal participants named by these children. Prior to this the social and cultural contexts that shape these relations are studied with further 100 participating children."

[See also: http://commonworlds.net/portfolio_page/significant-others-how-animals-matter-as-part-of-childrens-everyday-life-communities/
https://sandpost.net/2016/11/17/congratulations-funding-for-study-of-child-animal-relations/ ]
children  multispecies  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  childhood  animals  pets  everyday  ethnography  pauliinarautio  riikkahohti  tuuretammi  2017  sfsh 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Trumped Up Data
"I’ve started working on my annual review of the year in ed-tech, something I’ve done for the past six years. It’s an intensive project – I will write some 75,000 words between now and the end of December – that forces me to go back through all the events and announcements of the previous twelve months. I don’t do so to make predictions about the future. But rather I look for patterns so that I can better understand how the past might orient us towards certain futures. I listen closely to the stories that we have told ourselves about education and technology, about the various possible futures in which these two systems (these two sets of practices, these two sets of ideologies) are so deeply intertwined. I pay attention to who tells the stories, who shares the stories, who believes the stories. In thinking about the past, I am always thinking about the future; in thinking about the future, we are always talking about the past.

That’s what’s at the core of a slogan like “Make America Great Again,” of course. It invokes a nostalgic longing for a largely invented past as it gestures towards a future that promises “greatness” once again.

Last week – and it feels so long right now – I gave a talk titled “The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Issue a Press Release.” I argued there’s something frighteningly insidious about the ways in which predictions about the future of education and technology are formulated and spread. These predictions are predicated on a destabilization or disruption of our public institutions and an entrenchment of commodification and capitalism.

These predictions don’t have to be believable or right; indeed, they rarely are. But even when wrong, they push the future in a certain direction. And they reveal the shape that the storytellers want the future to take.

In my talk, I called these predictions a form of “truthiness.” I’d add to that, an observation that sociologist Nathan Jurgenson made last night about “factiness”:
On the right, they have what Stephan Colbert called “truthiness,” which we might define as ignoring facts in the name of some larger truth. The facts of Obama’s birthplace mattered less for them than their own racist “truth” of white superiority. Perhaps we need to start articulating a left-wing version of truthiness: let’s call it “factiness.” Factiness is the taste for the feel and aesthetic of “facts,” often at the expense of missing the truth. From silly self-help-y TED talks to bad NPR-style neuroscience science updates to wrapping ourselves in the misleading scientism of Fivethirtyeight statistics, factiness is obsessing over and covering ourselves in fact after fact while still missing bigger truths.

“Factiness” connects to a lot of what we saw in this election, to be sure – this faith, as Jurgenson points out, in polling despite polling being wrong repeatedly, all along. It connects to a lot of what we hear in technology circles too – that we can build intelligent systems that model and adapt and learn and predict complex human behaviors. And that, in turn, is connected to education’s long-standing obsession with data: that we can harness elaborate analytics and measurement tools to identify who’s learning and who’s not.

I don’t believe that answers are found in “data” (that is, in “data” as this pure objective essence of “fact” or “truth”). Rather, I believe answers – muddier and more mutable and not really answers at all – live in stories. It is, after all, in stories where we find what underpins and extends both “truthiness” and “factiness.” Stories are crafted and carried in different ways, no doubt, than “data,” even when they serve the same impulse – to control, to direct.

Stories are everywhere, and yet stories can be incredibly easy to dismiss.
We do not listen.

Sometimes I joke that I’ve been described as “ed-tech’s Cassandra.” Mostly, it’s unfunny – not much of a joke at all considering how things worked out for poor Cassandra. But I do listen closely to the stories being told about the future of education and technology, and all I can do is to caution people that these stories rely on some fairly dystopian motifs and outcomes.

I’m also a folklorist, an ethnographer. I approach education technology with that disciplinary training. I listen to the stories. I observe the practices. I talk to people.

I’m not sure how to move forward after last night’s election results. For now, all I have is this: I want to remind people of the importance of stories – that stories might be better to turn to for understanding the future people want, better than the data we’ve been so obsessed with watching as a proxy for actually talking or listening to them."
audreywatters  2016  data  elections  edtech  truthiness  factiness  listening  nathanjurgenson  ethnography  folklore  storytelling  stories  bigdata  predictions  understanding  truth  stephencolbert 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Ethan Zuckerman: Solving Other People's Problems With Technology - The Atlantic
"In other words, is it possible to get beyond both a naïve belief that the latest technology will solve social problems—and a reaction that rubbishes any attempt to offer novel technical solutions as inappropriate, insensitive, and misguided? Can we find a synthesis in which technologists look at their work critically and work closely with the people they’re trying to help in order to build sociotechnical systems that address hard problems?

Obviously, I think this is possible — if really, really hard — or I wouldn’t be teaching at an engineering school. But before considering how we overcome a naïve faith in technology, let’s examine Snow’s suggestion. It’s a textbook example of a solution that’s technically sophisticated, simple to understand, and dangerously wrong."



"The problem with the solutionist critique, though, is that it tends to remove technological innovation from the problem-solver’s toolkit. In fact, technological development is often a key component in solving complex social and political problems, and new technologies can sometimes open a previously intractable problem. The rise of inexpensive solar panels may be an opportunity to move nations away from a dependency on fossil fuels and begin lowering atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, much as developments in natural gas extraction and transport technologies have lessened the use of dirtier fuels like coal.

But it’s rare that technology provides a robust solution to a social problem by itself. Successful technological approaches to solving social problems usually require changes in laws and norms, as well as market incentives to make change at scale."



"Of the many wise things my Yale students said during our workshop was a student who wondered if he should be participating at all. “I don’t know anything about prisons, I don’t have family in prison. I don’t know if I understand these problems well enough to solve them, and I don’t know if these problems are mine to solve.”

Talking about the workshop with my friend and colleague Chelsea Barabas, she asked the wonderfully deep question, “Is it ever okay to solve another person’s problem?”

On its surface, the question looks easy to answer. We can’t ask infants to solve problems of infant mortality, and by extension, it seems unwise to let kindergarten students design educational policy or demand that the severely disabled design their own assistive technologies.

But the argument is more complicated when you consider it more closely. It’s difficult if not impossible to design a great assistive technology without working closely, iteratively, and cooperatively with the person who will wear or use it. My colleague Hugh Herr designs cutting-edge prostheses for U.S. veterans who’ve lost legs, and the centerpiece of his lab is a treadmill where amputees test his limbs, giving him and his students feedback about what works, what doesn’t, and what needs to change. Without the active collaboration with the people he’s trying to help, he’s unable to make technological advances.

Disability rights activists have demanded “nothing about us without us,” a slogan that demands that policies should not be developed without the participation of those intended to benefit from those policies.

Design philosophies like participatory design and codesign bring this concept to the world of technology, demanding that technologies designed for a group of people be designed and built, in part, by those people. Codesign challenges many of the assumptions of engineering, requiring people who are used to working in isolation to build broad teams and to understand that those most qualified to offer a technical solution may be least qualified to identify a need or articulate a design problem. This method is hard and frustrating, but it’s also one of the best ways to ensure that you’re solving the right problem, rather than imposing your preferred solution on a situation."



"It is unlikely that anyone is going to invite Shane Snow to redesign a major prison any time soon, so spending more than 3,000 words urging you to reject his solution may be a waste of your time and mine. But the mistakes Snow makes are those that engineers make all the time when they turn their energy and creativity to solving pressing and persistent social problems. Looking closely at how Snow’s solutions fall short offers some hope for building better, fairer, and saner solutions.

The challenge, unfortunately, is not in offering a critique of how solutions go wrong. Excellent versions of that critique exist, from Morozov’s war on solutionism, to Courtney Martin’s brilliant “The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems.” If it’s easy to design inappropriate solutions about problems you don’t fully understand, it’s not much harder to criticize the inadequacy of those solutions.

What’s hard is synthesis — learning to use technology as part of well-designed sociotechnical solutions. These solutions sometimes require profound advances in technology. But they virtually always require people to build complex, multifunctional teams that work with and learn from the people the technology is supposed to benefit.

Three students at the MIT Media Lab taught a course last semester called “Unpacking Impact: Reflecting as We Make.” They point out that the Media Lab prides itself on teaching students how to make anything, and how to turn what you make into a business, but rarely teaches reflection about what we make and what it might mean for society as a whole. My experience with teaching this reflective process to engineers is that it’s both important and potentially paralyzing, that once we understand the incompleteness of technology as a path for solving problems and the ways technological solutions relate to social, market, and legal forces, it can be hard to build anything at all.

I’m going to teach a new course this fall, tentatively titled “Technology and Social Change.” It’s going to include an examination of the four levers of social change Larry Lessig suggests in Code, and which I’ve been exploring as possible paths to civic engagement. The course will include deep methodological dives into codesign, and will examine using anthropology as tool for understanding user needs. It will look at unintended consequences, cases where technology’s best intentions fail, and cases where careful exploration and preparation led to technosocial systems that make users and communities more powerful than they were before.

I’m “calling my shot” here for two reasons. One, by announcing it publicly, I’m less likely to back out of it, and given how hard these problems are, backing out is a real possibility. And two, if you’ve read this far in this post, you’ve likely thought about this issue and have suggestions for what we should read and what exercises we should try in the course of the class — I hope you might be kind enough to share those with me.

In the end, I’m grateful for Shane Snow’s surreal, Black Mirror vision of the future prison both because it’s a helpful jumping-off point for understanding how hard it is to make change well by using technology, and because the U.S. prison system is a broken and dysfunctional system in need of change. But we need to find ways to disrupt better, to challenge knowledgeably, to bring the people they hope to benefit into the process. If you can, please help me figure out how we teach these ideas to the smart, creative people I work with—people who want to change the world, and are afraid of breaking it in the process."
technology  technosolutionism  solutionism  designimperialism  humanitariandesign  problemsolving  2016  ethanzuckerman  design  blackmirror  shanesnow  prisons  socialchange  lawrencelessig  anthropology  medialab  courtneymartin  nutraloaf  soylent  codesign  evgenymorozov  olcp  wikipedia  bias  racism  empathy  suziecagle  mitmedialab  mit  systems  systemsthinking  oculusrift  secondlife  vr  virtualreality  solitaryconfinement  incarceration  change  changemaking  ethnography  chelseabarabas  participatory  participatorydesign 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Prof Carla Rinaldi on 'Reclaiming Childhood' - YouTube
[For a quick taste, go to 52:15 https://youtu.be/dqgvW-IRXKg?t=3135:

"Schools, in general, they are considered as a place to learn to read, to learn to write, to be disciplined. Especially the schools for the youngest, they are the famous place to pre-: to pre-pare for the future, to pre-pare for life, to pre- pre- pre-. Pre-school, pre-reading, pre-writing. To take children to pre-ordained outcomes. Pre-, pre-. It’s time to really cancel pre- because school is not a preparation for life, but life. It is a real, deep important part of your life. […] School is life. […] Life itself is school, but for sure, school is life. And the question becomes more urgent nowadays because we are talking about the role of school in contemporary society. Contemporary that is a digital era, e-learning, everything. And somebody says maybe it's time to cancel schools. Why do we continue to build schools? Why does a society looking at the future have to continue to have a school? […] I think the answers still continues to be that we need to have good schools because they are a fundamental place of education of the citizen and communities. […] Not only a place to transmit culture, but nowadays more than ever a place to construct culture and values. Culture of childhood and culture from childhood. That means that the children are bearers and constructors of elements that can renew the culture. They are our best source for our renewing culture. […] The way in which they approach life is not something that we observe without them in our life, it is an amazing source for renewing our questions and our way of approaching life. They are the source for creativity, for creative thinking. They can be the source for changing the concept of ecological approach, holistic approach. We have to explain [these] to each other. Children know exactly what it means. […] We continue to talk about teaching nature to children. Children *are* nature."
carlarinaldi  2013  education  schools  teaching  sfsh  childhood  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  reggioemilia  children  agesegregation  aborigines  australia  pedagogy  inclusivity  accessibility  competence  life  living  meaning  meaningmaking  beauty  humanism  humanity  humans  humannature  self-discipline  thewhy  creativity  trust  parenting  unschooling  deschooling  listening  respect  knowing  relationships  joy  canon  otherness  howeteach  makingvisible  ethnography  welcome  reciprocity  community  interdependence  negotiation  rights  nature  culture  culturemaking  responsibility  duty  duties  authority  rule  freedom  co-constuction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Databite No. 76: Neil Selwyn - live stream - YouTube
"Neil Selwyn presents (Dis)Connected Learning: the messy realities of digital schooling: In this Databite, Neil Selwyn will work through some emerging headline findings from a new three year study of digital technology use in Australian high schools. In particular Neil will highlight the ways in which schools’ actual uses of technology often contradict presumptions of ‘connected learning’, ‘digital education’ and the like. Instead Neil will consider ….

• how and why recent innovations such as maker culture, personalised learning and data-driven education are subsumed within more restrictive institutional ‘logics’;

• the tensions of ‘bring your own device’ and other permissive digital learning practices • how alternative and resistant forms of technology use by students tend to mitigate *against* educational engagement and/or learning gains;

• the ways in which digital technologies enhance (rather than disrupt) existing forms of advantage and privilege amongst groups of students;

• how the distributed nature of technology leadership and innovation throughout schools tends to restrict widespread institutional change and reform;

• the ambiguous role that digital technologies play in teachers’ work and the labor of teaching;

• the often surprising ways that technology seems to take hold throughout schools – echoing broader imperatives of accountability, surveillance and control.

The talk will provide plenty of scope to consider how technology use in schools might be ‘otherwise’, and alternate agendas to be pursued by educators, policymakers, technology developers and other stakeholders in the ed-tech space."

[via: "V interesting talk by Neil Selwyn on ed-tech and (dis)connected learning in school"
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/718900001271783424 ]

"the grammar of schooling"
neilselwyn  edtech  byod  via:audreywatters  logitics  technology  teaching  learning  howweteacher  power  mobile  phones  ipads  laptops  pedagogy  instruction  resistance  compliance  firewalls  making  makingdo  youth  schools  design  micromanagement  lms  application  sameoldsameold  efficiency  data  privacy  education  howweteach  regimentation  regulation  rules  flexibility  shininess  time  schooliness  assessment  engagement  evidence  resilience  knowledge  schedules  class  leadership  performativity  schooldesign  connectedlearning  surveillance  control  accountability  change  institutions  deschooling  quest2play  relationships  curriculum  monitoring  liberation  dml  liberatorytechnology  society  culture  ethnography  schooling  sorting  discipline 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Refusal as Research Method in Discard Studies « Discard Studies
"Researchers examining waste issues have the potential to uncover particularly sensitive information—that specific places, people or animals might be contaminated— that has very real social and material consequences for communities being studied. We also might be given access to report on potentially painful community events and experiences. As researchers interested in social justice, how do we proceed helpfully in our research?

The concept of ‘ethnographic refusal’ is one way forward. Ethnographic refusal is a practice by which researchers and research participants together decide not to make particular information available for use within the academy. Its purpose is not to bury information, but to ensure that communities are able to respond to issues on their own terms. An ethnographic refusal is intended to redirect academic analysis away from harmful pain-based narratives that obscure slow violence, and towards the structures and institutions that engender those narratives. It is a method centrally concerned with a community’s right to self-representation.

This method comes out of an ethical commitment to decolonize research. For example, the recent ‘ontological turn’ in discard studies encourages researchers to engage with Indigenous knowledge systems and ontologies, as a way of better understanding how issues of contamination and waste are understood and experienced within Indigenous communities—something that is easily (and often) misconstrued by non-community members, including academics. In turn, researchers might have access to internal conversations, knowledge that is considered sacred, or that the academy otherwise “doesn’t deserve” (Tuck and Yang 2014a: 813). Engaging in ethnographic refusal as method, then, is intended as an ethical intervention that provides research participants the opportunity to dictate whether knowledge is to be made available within the academy (among other places), how environmental and human health issues are responded to, and by whom.

The following annotated bibliography is an introduction to ethnographic refusal. The first two texts in this bibliography (Tuhiwai Smith 1999; Zavala 2013), provide overviews of decolonization as a methodology, outlining the colonial traditions that inform contemporary anthropological practices and the need for decolonizing research. Both texts indicate the importance of research collaboration and emphasize efforts by Indigenous people to take control over their representation in research. The more recent piece (Zavala 2013), suggests that decolonial research must place Indigenous perspectives and interests as the marker through which research is evaluated and practiced. Based on readings written primarily by Indigenous researchers, I suggest that ‘ethnographic refusal’— whereby certain information about Indigenous knowledge and experiences is kept out of the academy— is a method that helps keep researchers accountable to the communities they research. The different perspectives on ‘ethnographic refusal’ held by Ortner (1995) and Simpson (2007) showcase how the method developed through two different bodies of literature, driven by very different goals and objectives. The final papers by Tuck and Yang (2014a & b) provide examples of ways that researchers can incorporate ‘refusals’ throughout their research process."
ethnography  method  refusal  2016  via:javierarbona  research  representation  self-representation  fieldwork  decolonization  ethnographicrefusal  illegibility  legibility 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Speculative Ethnography | Ethnography Matters
"This month’s theme is about the relationships between ethnography and fiction. It is not necessarily something that we explored a lot here at Ethnography Matters, which is why it seemed an interesting topic for this September edition. Another reason to address this now is because of recent experimental ways of “doing ethnography” (e.g. the work by Ellis & Bochner or Denzin), as well as curious interdisciplinary work at the cross-roads of design, science-fiction and ethnography (e.g. design fiction)."

[Includes:
September 2013: Ethnography, Speculative Fiction and Design"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/09/17/september-2013-ethnography-speculative-fiction-and-design/
"This month’s theme is about the relationships between ethnography and fiction. It is not necessarily something that we explored a lot here at Ethnography Matters, which is why it seemed an interesting topic for this September edition. Another reason to address this now is because of recent experimental ways of “doing ethnography” (e.g. the work by Ellis & Bochner or Denzin), as well as curious interdisciplinary work at the cross-roads of design, science-fiction and ethnography (e.g. design fiction).

Of course, in Anthropology, the border between ethnography and fiction has always been very thin. Consider how ethnographers have written fictional novels or made speculative films, more or less based on field research. Also think about “docufictions” by Jean Rouch, a blend of documentary and fictional film in the area of visual anthropology. There are lots of reasons for using fictional methods, but there’s a general interest in going beyond scientific format/language by making ethnographic accounts more “engaging, palatable, and effective“."

"What Would Wallace Write? (if he were an ethnographer)"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/09/29/what-would-wallace-write-if-he-were-an-ethnographer/

"Ethnography and Speculative Fiction"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/09/27/ethnography-and-speculative-fiction/

"Ethnographies from the Future: What can ethnographers learn from science fiction and speculative design?"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/09/26/ethnographies-from-the-future-what-can-ethnographers-learn-from-science-fiction-and-speculative-design/

"Towards Fantastic Ethnography and Speculative Design"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/09/17/towards-fantastic-ethnography-and-speculative-design/ ]
ethnography  speculativeethnography  2013  annegalloway  lauraforlano  clareanzoleaga  jan-hendrikpassoth  nicholasrowland  nicolasnova  speculativedesign  speculativefiction  fiction  ethnographicfiction  anthropology  visualanthropology  documentary  fantasy  docufictions 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Danielle Carr on Twitter: "So many critiques of quantification rely on the premise of an untrammeled wholeness that is sullied by description through numbers."
"So many critiques of quantification rely on the premise of an untrammeled wholeness that is sullied by description through numbers." [*two replies below)
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696719618543644672

"This idea of language as that which severs us from reality is precisely the lacanian critique of language as a traumatic alienation."
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696720251183038464

"So if we think of quantification as a form of nomination (if not of language as such), we miss something by insisting on its lack"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696720461217075200

"So much of "qualitative" social methods justifies itself methodologically by decrying the lack instantiated by quantification"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696720701751980036

"But languages aren't lack. They are the introduction of new associative capacities. We must think of any nominative system as PRODUCTIVE"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696720958653100032

"The question then, of course, is what is produced."
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696721047534571520

"It's easy to resent the hegemonic episteme of DATA, and yes, quantification is making absurd claims (eg literary analysis by word frequency)"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696721529841827841

"But nominative schemes introduce possibilities for linking things, often through equating one thing with another"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696721903084552196

"One thing is equivalent to another within the nominative scheme- my depression is equivalent to yours because we scored the same on a metric"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696722192978067456

"Does this linkage erase the "realness"reality? Of the deep social contextuality of our respective depression, etc?"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696722765060173828

"Only if we take the assertion of identity seriously rather than as an associative capacity emerging from a play of language"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696722816293539840

"My point is this: don't critique quantification like a lacanian dickhead or you'll miss the fun of nominative play"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696723071978377218

"One thing you'll learn from doing STS ethnography real quick: NOBODY THINKS THE NUMBERS ARE AN EXHAUSTIVE DESCRIPTION OF REALITY"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696723590054551552

"so sociological critiques that mouth "quantification is arbitrary/inadequate" are reaaaaaally old news to the actants in question"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696723938764845058

"Saying "numbers aren't adequate descriptions of reality" is fatuous because THERE IS NO ADEQUATE DESCRIPTION OF REALITY"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696724166322581505

"Description is itself a productive capacity of reality. So we have to ask what the descriptions do."
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696724472792014849

"Anyway I love sociological critique, I really do, but can we please stop pretending that language is real and numbers are arbitrary"
https://twitter.com/flaneuryoconnor/status/696724677931200513

[*replies:

"@flaneuryoconnor Yeah, this is dear to me—I wrote about it in this piece for Prickly Paradigm, "Bastard Algebra": https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55eb004ee4b0518639d59d9b/t/55ece03de4b0902fc059d901/1441587261788/seaver-bastardalgebra.pdf …"
https://twitter.com/npseaver/status/696766300597723136

"@flaneuryoconnor Yeah, sucks. Have you seen this special issue? A mixed bag, but these folks are working beyond that http://ant.sagepub.com/content/10/1-2.toc …"
https://twitter.com/npseaver/status/696739976088854528]
daniellecarr  nickseaver  data  quantification  2016  reality  words  language  lacan  traumaticalienation  realness  context  sts  ethnography  numbers  sociology  description  perception  arbitrariness 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Three Popular Films by Jean-Pierre Gorin - From the Current - The Criterion Collection
"Jean-Pierre Gorin’s three Southern California movies are so militantly unclassifiable that terms like documentary or essay film seem as hopelessly out of sync with the recalcitrant and frequently exhilarating works themselves as a Marxist harangue in a Burger King. Movie criticism is ill equipped to deal with these ecstatic operations, which get high on their own cunning strategies.

How on earth did this Sorbonne-educated son of Jewish Trotskyites, onetime student of Althusser, Lacan, and Foucault, pre-1968 Marxist firebrand and partner in crime of Jean-Luc Godard wind up in Greater San Diego making these peculiarly all-American movies? Let’s just say that he followed his desire. “Many political people have self-conscious and proclaimed interests that they call revolutionary,” he explained to Danish filmmaker and critic Christian Braad Thomsen in a 1974 Jump Cut interview. “But they also have unconscious interests that can be completely reactionary, even if they are linked to the revolutionary interests. There comes the point when I say: ‘Man, blow your mind, try to dig into your own unconscious, try to find where your investment and your interest is.’” During their misunderstood Dziga Vertov Group period, Godard and Gorin were struggling to find a new, living definition of the political: over the years, Godard went increasingly macro, enlarging his sense of his own consciousness to the point where it covered the entire expanse of Western civilization; Gorin went micro, allowing his films and the people and places and contradictions that nourished them to speak in their own idiosyncratic voices. Poto and Cabengo (1980), Routine Pleasures (1986), and My Crasy Life (1992) are, on one level, vastly different experiences, each with its own peculiar frame of reference and line of aesthetic attack. Taken together, they represent an unofficial “language” trilogy, in which varying styles and modes of American speech ravish and are ravished in turn.

Gorin was invited to Southern California by painter, film critic, and teacher Manny Farber, when Farber was in the process of building a visual arts department at the University of California, San Diego. As Gorin put it to writer Lynne Tillman in 1988, “The meeting with Farber was a determining one. As determining, in a sense, as my encounter with Godard years ago. The reading of his film criticism gave me a very different key to American cinema than the one I used in France, a way to ground it in the culture and its language, to pry it away from its own mythology. But more importantly, it’s from reflecting on his painting, his main activity for years by the time I met him, that I learned the most.”

While he was scrutinizing a new landscape through new eyes, Gorin found the story of Grace and Virginia Kennedy, a pair of twins from nearby Point Loma who, according to the press, spoke in their own private language. “The Loch Ness monster had been nowhere in sight that year, and I suspect the journalists felt the twins would be a good substitute,” Gorin told Tillman. “They built up a case which reeked of Wild Child mystique.” Gorin realized instantly that there was no private language but rather “a patchwork of southern lingo spoken by their father and of the deformations imposed on the English language by their German-born mother.” His newfound American friend the producer–star programmer–California gentleman Tom Luddy suggested filmmaker Les Blank as a cameraman, and Gorin began his inquiry into something that “had been so completely misconstrued. It seemed like an eminently dramatic premise: two kids who moved and sounded like hummingbirds, who for years had been privately deciphering the world for each other, who did not know why they had suddenly become the object of so much attention.” Poto and Cabengo (the names by which the twins sometimes called each other) is not a “portrait” of Ginny and Grace and their family, or a “probing look at the strange phenomenon of idioglossia,” but a rhapsodic layering of elements and relations, filmed by Blank in singingly lyrical motion and color. The film can be examined from multiple angles, each as valid, not to mention exciting, as the next.

“Does anyone else use sound as a totally filmic weapon?” wrote Farber of Godard. The same could be said of Gorin’s fix on the spoken word in Poto and Cabengo, and throughout the trilogy, a matter of tireless ethnographic curiosity, slaphappy connoisseurship, and an immigrant intellectual’s ironically tinged boosterism of his new culture—in fact, the title of one of Godard’s finest and least-known works nicely sums up this side of Gorin’s cinematic enterprise: Puissance de la parole. In Poto and Cabengo, you can practically taste the filmmaker’s joy as he circles around the katzenjammerian speech patterns of Chris Kennedy, the raunchy vulgarity of her Hispanic neighbors, and Tom Kennedy’s depressed Georgia drawl, and then contrasts those voices with the squeaky-clean cadences of the speech therapists and linguists, perfectly enunciating every syllable of their expert opinions.

All three films are conversations—conversations between people and between those people and the unlikely landscapes in which they dwell, between cliché and reality, inside and outside, difference and repetition, sound and image, filmmaker and subject, body language and verbal language, and, supremely, between Gorin and himself as he continually revises his own position relative to both the movie and his adopted country. They are explorations and self-explorations, pinpointing and opening up all the inconvenient details and exceptions that short-circuit any final judgments. At first glance, we sophisticates may feel like we have the Kennedy household, Routine Pleasures’ Pacific Beach & Western railway crew, and My Crasy Life’s West Side S.O.S., Sons of Samoa, 32nd Street gangbangers all figured out. We are disabused of such notions almost instantaneously. Every rhetorical move is either jarred or knocked out of place by a countermove, and we are left with a cinematic organism in which nothing is frozen and everything is in ceaseless motion. I honestly can’t think of another movie that keeps tunneling through its own foundation as relentlessly as these three do, each stopping just short of a complete cave-in.

In Poto and Cabengo (and Routine Pleasures as well), the filmmaker’s voice-over squeezes some comedy out of the spectacle of an “ex-Marxist” immigrant fretting over the degree to which he is still French or already American. It’s easy, and slightly misleading, to become fixated on Gorin’s deadpan delivery of his stylized and allusive commentary, in which he borrows Farber’s wisecracking deflations and turns them on the film in general and himself in particular. In his writing, Farber found a language that was scintillating, thrillingly dense with metaphors, and utterly precise, disarming both the reader and any conventionally authoritative voices, be they academic, moralistic, corporate, or political. Gorin adapts Farber’s strategy to his own purposes in order to maintain a one-to-one relationship with his subjects and his audience. While the voice-over scores a few comic points here and there and maintains a nice surface tension, its principal purpose is utilitarian: to steer the film up, down, and sideways, and finally guide us to the more unsettling seriocomic state of affairs deep within the material. The gap between Tom and Chris Kennedy’s vision of their economic situation and the gruesome reality is terrifyingly wide, a real-life version of early movie comedy’s fixation on the gulf between aspiration and achievement. The only reasonable response to the strange sight of this “close-knit” family sitting around their cardboard hearth is to laugh, as they might just do were they to wander into a theater and get a load of themselves. This is not the comedy of cruelty but of extreme identification.

Gorin’s American movies are handmade productions that now speak to us in two tenses. Three decades and a “digital revolution” later, they are among the most provocative artifacts of the last moment when movies really were made by hand, and when, for a precious few (Gorin, Godard, Glauber Rocha, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Robert Frank, Yvonne Rainer, Chantal Akerman), process was on an equal footing with product. As immediate, present-tense experiences, they are endlessly self-revealing, an array of clear aesthetic choices, made from a limited set of cinematic elements, combined, layered, pulled apart and put back together in different configurations to build a rich, winningly active surface texture in the mind of the viewer. They are rude and lovably inelegant movies, resisting any drift into sophistication or severity, and resembling nothing so much as the earliest sound productions of Walsh or Wellman as reimagined by a political firebrand who has just escaped from the prison house of his own theories.

But above all else, these are “popular” films, in the French sense of the term—populaire, or “of the people.” In other words, they begin and end at ground level, where life is lived out from instant to instant. Gorin wrote, “My Crasy Life has at its core a commitment, radical in its simplicity: to respect the voice of its ‘subjects’”—the voice and, by extension, the worldview and experiential horizon line. This can be said of all three movies.

In the cinema of Jean-Pierre Gorin, there is no such thing as a case study or a type. Just us, all in the same boat, whether we care to know it or not."
jean-pierregorin  film  potoandcabengo  2012  kentjones  sandiego  california  mannyfarber  jean-lucgodard  filmmaking  srg  mycrasylife  routinepleasures  1986  1992  1980  lacan  foucault  louisalthusser  michelfoucault  althusser  lesblank  tomluddy  lynnetillman  longbeach  ucsd  glauberrocha  jean-mariestraub  danièlehuillet  robertfrank  yvonnerainer  chantalakerman  babettemangolte  raymonddurgnat  sonsofsomoa  ethnography  samoa  gangs  margaretmead  losangeles 
november 2015 by robertogreco
My Tribe Is an Unsophisticated People | CultureBy – Grant McCracken
"This is a photograph of Sara Little Turnbull (1917–2015). Sara was an designer and anthropologist. In 1988 she founded, and for 18 years she ran, the Process of Change Laboratory for Innovation and Design at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

I like this photo for a couple of reasons. Sara was caught at her desk, mid-task, mid-thought. She senses the camera and gives it a knowing look. What’s maybe most striking is her clothing. Ever so fashionable. Ever so anti-anthropological.

My tribe dresses badly. Jeans. It takes a lot of denim to clothe the field. We don’t ever dress up. The idea appears to be to dress as far down as possible without provoking the suspicion of vagrancy. When formal clothing is called for the anthropologist sometimes resorts to the clothing of the culture they study. Put it this way, no one ever looks like Sara.

A lot of this is “badge of pride” stuff. Anthropologists dress badly to make a point. They want you to know that they reject the conventions of a mainstream society, that they care nothing for the bourgeois respectability, upward mobility, and/or conspicuous consumption that animate the dress codes of the rest of the world. It’s not a punk violation of code. It’s just a way of saying “Look, we’re out.”

This strategy is not without it’s costs. As Marshall Sahlins, God’s gift to anthropology, used to say in his University of Chicago seminars, “every theory is a bargain with reality.” (By which we believed he meant, every theory buys some knowledge at the cost of other knowledge.) And so it is with every suit of clothing. It give you access to some parts of the world, but it denies you access to others.

This social immobility is not a bad thing if you are a nuclear scientist or a botanist. But it does matter if you are prepared to make claims to knowledge when it comes to your own culture, and anthropologists are never shy on this topic.

Anthropologists believe they know about a great deal about their own culture. But in point of fact, there are many worlds they do not know and cannot access, worlds of which they have scant personal knowledge and in which they have few personal contacts. Generally speaking, they don’t know anyone in the worlds of venture capital, advertising, graphic design, publishing, fashion, forecasting, strategy, philanthropy, art museums, professional sports, industrial design, user experience, startup capitalism, banking, branding, public relations, small business, big business, or politics. It’s a lot, the things anthropologist don’t know about their own culture.

Anjali Ramachandran recently heard Salman Rushdie speak in London and recalls he said something like,

“One thing I tell students is to try and get into as many different kinds of rooms to hear as many different kinds of conversations as possible. Because otherwise how will you find things to put in your books?”

Just so. Rushdie’s “many rooms” strategy is not embraced in anthropology. By and large, anthropologists encourage their students to stick to a small number of rooms where, by and large, they conduct the same conversation.

This is ironic not least because one of the field’s most recent and convincing contributions to the world beyond it’s own is actually a contemplation of the danger of living in a silo. Gillian Tett (PhD in social anthropology, University of Cambridge) recently published a book called The Silo Effect: The Peril of Expertise and the Promise of Breaking Down Barriers. This is a book about the compartmentalization of all organizations, but it might have been a study of the field of anthropology.

The further irony is that in its post-modern moment, anthropology claims to be especially, even exquisitely, self reflexive, but the sad thing is that it does ever seem to be reflexive on matters like this. Clifford Geertz used to say that much of anthropology is self confession. Too bad that’s no longer true.

Irony gives way to something less amusing when we see that this provincialism is not just self-imposed but enforced as a tribal obligation. Those who dare dress “up” or “well” or “fashionably” or, as we might say, “in a manner that maximizes cultural mobility” is scorned. As graduate students, we actually dared sneer at the elegant suits sported by Michael Silverstein. How dare he refuse this opportunity to tell the world how world-renouncing he was! There is something odd and a little grotesque about willing a provincialism of this kind and then continuing to insist on your right to make claims to knowledge.

Sara Little Turnbull knew better. She understood how many mansions are contained in the house of contemporary culture. She embraced the idea that anthropology was a process of participant observation and that we can’t understand our culture from the outside alone. Sara also understood that the few “ideas” that anthropology uses to account for this endlessly various data is a little like the people of Lilliput hoping to keep Gulliver in place on the beach with a couple of guy wires. Eventually the beast comes to. Sara could study contemporary culture because she didn’t underestimate it or constrain her rights of access."
anthropology  clothing  clothes  howwedress  grantmccracken  2015  saralittleturnball  anthropologists  ethnography  designresearch  centerfordesignresearch  salmanrushdie  processofchangelaboratory  anjaliramachandran  culture  gilliantett  marshallsahlins  provincialism  fashion  whatwewear  immersion 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Alex Blandford — Government and the cargo cult
"As part of work with Parliament User Group recently, we’ve been trying to think about the institutional blockers to reform and “progress” (without the Soviet, vanguardist associations).

One of the ones that came up a few times was the issue of “we’ve always done it like this, so we shall continue to do it like this”. Inertia is a powerful force in large organisations, especially ones with an aversion to being seen to fuck up.

There is an obverse to this, especially in the case of Parliament and a lot of Local Authorities: “We’re not GDS, so we won’t do anything that they do”. Wishing to have a sense of individuality is not uncommon. We’ll do this thing - we’ll succeed. We’ll show them.

Both of these behaviours come from a lack of strategic understanding. Simon Wardley has put it around 1000x better than I could: “why does a general bombard a hill? It isn’t because 95% of other generals did the same thing”.

[video]

Understanding where your business/organisation is going is absolutely vital. Merely saying (in government especially) that you will do open source because GDS did it (but did they really) or that you won’t be focusing on user needs as you are internal only (no word of a lie, have had this chat) is doomed to failure, and likely an expensive and public failure.

Mimicry in this space is often called Cargo Culting; an allusion to a particular fascination of anthropologists in the post-war period (although it goes back a lot further).

You can read up on it at wikipedia including how it came to be used in this context. But my problem with this is that cargo cults and their formation have very little to do with the way that we use the phrase, and I am hugely uncomfortable with the ethnocentrism involved in using the phrase. It relies on an implicit assumption that people in “tribes” are somehow dumb and that they see an airplane and thus mimic it like children. There is a huge long list of reading on how we treat people in tribes like children, and rob them of a claim to complex thought. I’d like to think we can do better in our metaphors.

So I thought I’d try and reverse this a little bit. Taking the same broad brush strokes as everyone else, I’d like to consider Trobriand Cricket. It’s not quite in the same bit of the Pacific as the cargo cults, but it has a similar use of “western” ideas.

[video]

This game is a syncretic mix of cricket as introduced by missionaries to the Trobriand Islands (along with football), and the rituals of war on the islands. It includes teams whose victory dances for a catch include references to WW2 soldiers and military materiel. Many of the islanders are university educated.

Now. Unless we’re going to say that Norwich City’s canary branding is part of an animistic shaman cult led by Delia Smith, this all seems quite normal for sport. Or even life. You have a game, you change it to fit your local context. You understand your strategy. It is also worth pointing out that the Prince Philip Movement’s cult of personality around the Duke of Edinburgh wouldn’t look out of place in the comments section of a number of national newspapers.

Here’s where it breaks down though. The game was imposed by missionaries. The way that these people lived was changed irreparably by British colonialism. The power dynamics in this idea are huge. So changing the game becomes a response to colonialism. A way of maintaining some control against overwhelming power.

And there is where my discomfort is. What people in the Pacific were often doing was a response to the invasion of their land, and its use as a strategic assett in war. Many islanders died. The power relations and political history of the phrase have been shed so that it becomes a glib way of comparing someone’s actions to the old saying about the definition of insanity as being the repetition of something expecting a previous result to the previous time.

As I mentioned yesterday, ‘disruption’ can feel like an existential threat to the status quo. It is all around us, and the internet is going to change how you do your job. Or else someone who will change will put you out of business, or make your organisation seem too inefficient by comparison. Copying your work of the kid at the next desk won’t work. Learning together and open conversation might help. But treat this as a plea: don’t get sucked in by tired cliche. Shorthand is just that - a reminder of the nuance and complexity that has been left out.

Go out and explore that."
alexblandford  2015  cargocult  disruption  complexity  nuance  copying  mimicry  imitation  systemsthinking  organizations  power  anthropology  ethnography  gds 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Multispecies.net | A blog and resource hub for Multispecies Ethnography and Anthropology
"Emergent multispecies perspectives are currently challenging scholars to reconsider established approaches to pressing social, political, and environmental issues. With this in mind, we hope multispecies.net will provide a forum for creative thinking, critical commentary, and debate about relationships between humans and all other forms of life; animals, insects, plants, fungi, and microbes.

We welcome submissions which consider how humans shape, and are shaped by, relationships with other species, and which attend to the agency, subjectivity, and interests of life beyond human species bounds."
via:anne  multispecies  anthropology  ethnography  animals  nature  humans  society  environment  politics  insects  plants  fungi  microbes 
october 2015 by robertogreco
SF: Science Fiction, Speculative Fabulation, String Figures, So Far - Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology
"The British social anthropologist Marilyn Strathern, who wrote The Gender of the Gift based on her ethnographic work in highland Papua New Guinea (Mt. Hagen), taught me that “It matters what ideas we use to think other ideas (with)” (Reproducing the Future 10). Marilyn embodies for me the practice of feminist speculative fabulation in the scholarly mode. It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories. Marilyn wrote about accepting the risk of relentless contingency; she thinks about anthropology as the knowledge practice that studies relations with relations, that puts relations at risk with other relations, from unexpected other worlds. In 1933 Alfred North Whitehead, the American mathematician and process philosopher who infuses my sense of worlding, wrote The Adventures of Ideas. SF is precisely full of such adventures. Isabelle Stengers, a chemist, scholar of Whitehead, and a seriously quirky Belgian feminist philosopher, gives me “speculative thinking” in spades. Isabelle insists we cannot denounce the world in the name of an ideal world. In the spirit of feminist communitarian anarchism and the idiom of Whitehead’s philosophy, she maintains that decisions must take place somehow in the presence of those who will bear their consequences.[2] In this same virtual sibling set, Marleen Barr morphed Heinlein’s speculative fiction into feminist fabulation for me. In relay and return, SF morphs in my writing and research into speculative fabulation and string figures. Relays, cat’s cradle, passing patterns back and forth, giving and receiving, patterning, holding the unasked-for pattern in one’s hands, response-ability, Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster series. My debts mount. Again and again, SF has given me the ideas, the stories, and the shapes with which I think ideas, shapes, and stories in feminist theory and science studies. There is no way I can name all of my debts to SF’s critters and worlds, human and not, and so I will record only a few and hope for a credit extension for years yet to come. I will enter these debts in a short ledger of my teaching and publishing. I start with Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time, a typescript of my curriculum vitae that was part of a file for consideration for promotion in the History of Science Department at Johns Hopkins in 1979-80, and a bottle of chalky white out. I had written an essay review of Woman on the Edge of Time for the activist publication, Women, a Journal of Liberation and duly recorded this little publication on the CV. “The past is the contested zone”—the past that is our thick, not-yet-fixed, present, wherewhen what is yet-to-come is now at stake—is the meme that drew me into Piercy’s story, and I was proud of the review. A senior colleague in History of Science, a supporter of my promotion, came to me with a too-friendly smile and that betraying bottle of white-out, asking me to blot out this publication from the scholarly record, “for my own good.”[3] He also wanted me to expunge “Signs of Dominance,” a long, research-dense essay about the semiotics and sociograms developed in mid-20th-century primate field studies of monkeys and apes.[4] To my shame to this day, I obeyed; to my relief to this day, no one was fooled. Piercy’s temporalities and my growing sense of the SF-structure of primate field work made me write two essays for the brave, new, hyper-footnoted, University of Chicago feminist theory publication, Signs, and to title the essays in recognition of Piercy’s priority and patterned relay to me.[5] I could not forget—or disavow—Piercy’s research for Woman on the Edge of Time, which led her to psychiatrist José Delgado’s Rockland State Hospital experiments with remote-controlled telemetric implants, and my finding in my own archival research Delgado’s National Institutes of Mental Health-funded work applied to gibbon studies in the ape colony on Hall’s Island. The colonial and imperial roots & routes of SF are relentlessly real and inescapably fabulated. Later, living (non-optionally, in really real SF histories) with and as cyborgs, Piercy and I played cat’s cradle again, this time with my “Cyborg Manifesto” and then her He, She, and It. Cyborgs were never just about the interdigitations of humans and information machines; cyborgs were from the get-go the materialization of imploded (not hybridized) human beings-information machines-multispecies organisms. Cyborgs were always simultaneously relentlessly real and inescapably fabulated. Like all good SF, they redid what counts as—what is—real. The obligatory multispecies story-telling script was written in 1960 United States space research, when Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline coined the word “cyborg” in an article about their implanted rats and the advantages of self-regulating human-machine systems in outer space."
speculativefiction  scifi  sciencefiction  donnaharaway  toread  speculativefabrication  isabellestrengers  alfrednorthwhitehead  knowledge  ideas  philosophy  anarchism  marilynstrathern  octaviabutler  manfredclynes  nathankline  cyborgs  joannaruss  samueldelany  evahayward  katieking  gregorybateson  historyofconsciousness  hiscon  herscam  jamestiptree  suzettehadenelgin  linguists  linguistics  johnvarley  fredjameson  suzymckeecharnass  ursulaleguin  worlding  cat'scradle  anthropology  ethnography  gwynethjones  heidegger  kant  multispecies  sheritepper  laurenoyaolamina  helenmerrick  margaretgrebowicz  dogs  animals  marleenbarr  marilynhacker  sarahlefanu  pamelasargent  viviansobchack  margaretatwood  vondamcintyre  ericrabkin  laurachernaik  sherrylvint  joshualebare  istvancsicsery-ronay  shulamithfirestone  judithmerril  franbartkowsky  2013 
october 2015 by robertogreco
An Interview with James C. Scott - Gastronomica
"Tracey Campbell:

Given that few societies, if any, are now fully independent of the kind of market forces that you have been discussing today, how should ethnographers consider corporations as actors when they’re doing their research? To elaborate a little further, a lot of people studying peasant agriculturists bemoan the presence of a market or corporations who extract value from the peasants, but there doesn’t seem to be any robust methodology for dealing with the corporations on the other side of those transactions so that there’s a corporate perspective on the transaction. It seems to be a sort of “here there be dragons” area of ethnographic research.

JS:

I suppose that would be remedied by the kind of ethnography in which people who either undercover, or with permission, go and do ethnographies of corporations as they’re dealing with them, right? So I would recommend a hero student of mine who’s named Tim Pachirat. He had an idea which was not politically correct for a political scientist; he was interested in what it did to people to kill sentient beings every day all day for a living. And so what he did, although he’s originally of Thai-American background and was going to work in Thailand, he learned Spanish and got himself a job in a slaughterhouse working for a year and a half, including working on the kill floor of the slaughterhouse, and ended up writing an ethnography of vision in the slaughterhouse in a book that I promise you, you cannot put down, it is so gripping. Everybody said that this was a career-ending move as a dissertation, but he wanted to do it and the book is an astounding account of the way in which the clean and dirty sections of a slaughterhouse are kept separate from one another and workers treated differently, and the way the line works. You could only write this ethnography, I think, by actually doing this work. And if he asked permission they never would have given it to him, so he just did it. So, he avoided all of the protocols for the people you’re interviewing, etc., he just ignored it all and did it. To begin with nothing much happened; he spent three months hanging livers in a cold room with another Hispanic worker. I mean, three months just taking a liver that came on a chain and putting it in a box and passing it on. And so he didn’t think that there was a lot of ethnography coming out of the room where he was packing livers, but he gradually worked his way into other parts of the plant. But I wish more people would go into the belly of the beast, either of corporations or supermarkets or institutions. At the end of his book he suggests making slaughterhouses out of glass and allowing schoolchildren to see how their meat’s prepared. I always believed that social science was a progressive profession because it was the powerful who had the most to hide about how the world actually worked and if you could show how the world actually worked it would always have a de-masking and a subversive effect on the powerful. I don’t think that’s quite true, but it seems to me it’s not bad as a point of departure anyway.

HW:

Moving on to the state now, you associate developing technologies of rule historically with ever more exploitative forms of hierarchy, and of course revolutionary states come in for focused critique in your work, as you distinguish between struggles over and through the apparatus of the state and you point out that these struggles have generally been disastrous for peasants and the working poor. But in a globalized world where decisive forms—and here I’m thinking about things like vertically integrated food supply chains—operate at ever greater distances and seem ever less controllable to ordinary people, is there not some role for the state; is resistance possible without engaging the state, without using the state in one way or another?

JS:

It’s hard to see any institutional structure that stands in the way of the homogenization and simplification of these supply chains in international capitalism, unless it is the nation state, right? Unless it is a kind of authoritative state structure. So, “yes.” [laughs] Now, qualifications that will leave little of the “yes” standing. First of all, most states aren’t even remotely democracies and most of the people who run these states by and large do the bidding of their corporate masters and take bribes and are servants of international capitalism, right? So we can’t rely on those states, can we? And then you take contemporary Western democracies, let me use my own country which I know best as an example, yes, you have an electoral system, yes you reelected the first black man president, yes there are some changes. On the other hand, the concentration of wealth has grown steeper and steeper and steeper, it allows lobbyists and people who provide campaign finance to basically control a campaign and its message, these people tend at the sort of high echelons of the corporate world to control most of the media and its messaging—right? These people are also able to sit on the congressional committees and write the loopholes in the legislation. Even when there is reform, they’re able to so influence the wording of the legislation that the loopholes are built in, they don’t have to be found, they’re actually legislated. And so then you get a state that in a neoliberal world is less and less able to be an honest mediator, a representative of popular aspirations, to discipline corporations. I want to leave a little bit of the yes standing, because as the result of the financial crisis there were slightly more stringent rules on bank capitalization, on regulation, on some consumer protection, but I think by and large there is not much in that way. Now, Scandinavian social democracy is a better picture, but North Atlantic, Anglo-American neoliberalism is not providing the kind of state that I think can provide this kind of discipline and regulation. I’m pessimistic."
jamescscott  via:shannon_mattern  epistemology  agriculture  academia  geography  2015  harrywest  celiaplender  interviews  agrarianstudies  southeastasia  anarchism  toread  resistance  vietnam  burma  thailand  timpachirat  ethnography  hierarchy  thestate  goverment  governance  capitalism  socialdemocracy  homogenization 
october 2015 by robertogreco
An Undertaking on Vimeo
"Michael Yates’ passion for working with wood arose from the wood’s accessibility, its palpable presence and the hope that his efforts would last. But when his grandmother requested that he build her casket, the stability of oak collided with an evocative “conversation” with impermanence, death and the inevitability of absence. In spite of his initial fear and resistance due to our culture’s steadfast avoidance of the D-word, Yates eventually agreed to build the casket and began the real work of constructing a genuine relationship with life, death and sawdust.

See more at darkrye.com
Follow us on Twitter twitter.com/darkryemag
and Instagram instagram.com/darkryemag "

[via: "Just showed this video to students as a perfect example of #ethnography about, through *and* for #design: https://vimeo.com/83513993 "
https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/649345214063185920 ]
via:anne  wood  death  culture  michaelyates  design  ethnography  video 
october 2015 by robertogreco
More-Than-Human Lab. » Design Ethnography in the Anthropocene
"It’s the second week of winter trimester, and I’m teaching my second-year undergraduate course in Design Ethnography. The theme this year is the Anthropocene, or how design relates to people’s relationships with animals, plants, the Earth’s elements, and “natural” materials in an era defined by humanity’s impact on the planet.

In this course, students learn about some of the main ecological challenges facing the world today and how different cultures around the world understand the relationship between nature and culture. And we focus on developing critical and creative skills in observation, interviews, interpretation, representation, and reflection so that design can play a more sustainable role in our shared future.

Anthropocene Fever by Jedediah Purdy

The Anthropocene debate: Why is such a useful concept starting to fall apart? by Aaron Vansintjan

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Plantationocene, Chthulucene: Making Kin (pdf) by Donna Haraway

Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet

Tomorrow we delve into what ethnography means and how we do it. I like this lecture because I get to share one of my favourite descriptions of ethnography, from Bronislaw Malinowski’s 1922 Argonauts of the Western Pacific :
“Ethnography has a goal, of which an Ethnographer should never lose sight. This goal is, briefly, to grasp the native’s point of view, his relation to life, to realise his vision of his world. We have to study man, and we must study what concerns him most intimately, that is, the hold life has on him. In each culture, the values are slightly different; people aspire after different aims, follow different impulses, yearn after a different form of happiness . . . In each culture, we find different institutions in which man pursues his life-interest, different customs by which he satisfies his aspirations, different codes of law and morality which reward his virtues or punish his defections. To study the institutions, customs, and codes or to study the behaviour and mentality without the subjective desire of feeling by what these people live, of realising the substance of their happiness—is, in my opinion, to miss the greatest reward which we can hope to obtain from the study of man.”

Ignore the outdated language and, almost one hundred years later, I think it is still an unusually eloquent statement on the beauty of our field of research. And if ethnography is committed to sharing stories about what it means to be human, then we can also count amongst its rewards a greater understanding of ourselves.

The first assignment is to conduct several hours of participant observation, doing something that can help us better understand people’s everyday understandings of, and interactions with, “nature”. I haven’t defined nature for them, and I can’t wait to see what they do!

I’ve also started doing something new this trimester: Each class begins with 10 minutes of sustained consideration of a photograph. Spending ten full minutes looking at one image is incredibly challenging but, I hope, also rewarding. The longer we spend looking at something, the more we stand to see. Our minds are given time to move away from–and perhaps more importantly, return to–what’s right in front of us. The activity, especially when done regularly, sharpens attention and increases awareness. It teaches students the foundational skill of all ethnographic research: engaged observation. The activity ends with answering one question: “What matters here?” and, of course, there is no right answer. The goal is simply to get better at seeing–at recognising–the larger context(s) which lend any image its resonance or power."
annegalloway  morethanhumanlab  anthropocene  photography  ethnography  designethnography  2015  jedediahpurdy  aaroncanistian  fonnaharaway  bronislawmalinowski  looking  noticing  observation  understanding  slow  classideas  multispecies  nature  culture  reflection  context  behavior 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Cristina Mittermeier (@cristinamittermeier) • Instagram
"Cristina Mittermeier Photography and pen are the tools I have chosen to illustrate the fragile place where indigenous cultures and nature intersect"

[See also: http://www.cristinamittermeier.com/
https://twitter.com/cmittermeier ]
cristinamittermeier  via:anne  anthropology  photography  nature  ethnography  culture  amazonrainfoest  arctic  indigenous  papuanewguinea  madagascar  africa  instagram  instragrams 
july 2015 by robertogreco
more-than-human lab - Thinking out loud
"I am a design ethnographer, researcher and educator. I work in the era of late capitalism, in the epoch described as the Anthropocene. I live in the world as an animal amongst animals, and I trade in things. I choose to work with those age-old structures of Western thought: animal, vegetable, mineral. And I choose to look for new ways of understanding them."
anthropology  ethnography  annegalloway  2015  animals  multispecies  posthumanism  capitalism  latecapitalism  anthropocene  understanding  research  education 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Learning in Landscapes: Research, Design, Praxis | T. Steele-Maley
"One of my summer research strands is to extend the work and design I am doing around participatory and practice based learning. I have found a few works exceptionally helpful and thought I would list them here in hopes others will too.

On my desk and causing an outpouring of thought and design is Learning in Landscapes of Practice: Boundaries, identity, and knowledgeability in practice-based learning.

What I like about this work is that it builds previous works of Wenger and Lave on situational learning, perspective and identity specifically: Wenger (1998) Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity: Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives on CoP’s and the foundational work of Lave and Wenger on situational learning (1991) Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation: Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives . I will also add the book all in education should read on critical ethnography by Lave (2011) Apprenticeship in Critical Ethnographic Practice .

I find each of these works intriguing and valuable towards the design of new professional development, organizational, and ultimately educational ecologies. Learning in Landscapes of Practice…. resonates because the concept of knowledgeability is so salient to schools and educational ecologies. In education, our silos for competency are legion and attempts to integrate professional development and participatory learning for the whole organization are very difficult. One of the main reasons for this, is our lack of robust frameworks to understand and critique the whole educational system that exists, quite often at this point, to perpetuate itself, as opposed to the needs of learners and communities.

This is tough work to tackle and the space of theory in schools often neglected. A common refrain in K-12 schools, “We do not have enough time for theory, we just need to….”, or, “we will leave that to the experts”. These views are at opposition with the reality that education is a social construct, that must be theorized, constructed/reconstructed through praxis, and care-taken by individuals in the community. No educator, parent or policymaker should leave the spaces of education, specifically praxis, unexamined. So where theory can open your eyes to a million valleys of thought and wonder, ultimately praxis allows for experience, knowledge building and networking towards both the boundaries and possibilities of education. These are critical conversations to have in education and society and I feel we need to tae a much closer look at what we are doing.

If you have considered these works in the K-12, Higher Ed or informal learning space please do reach out, via comment here or by way of Twitter, email…."
thomassteelemaley  lcproject  openstudioproject  experientialeducation  education  interdisciplinary  systemsthinking  raxis  2015  étiennewenger  ethnography  theory  practice  jeanlave  situationist  situatedlearning  community  communitiesofpractice  school  tcsnmy  professionaldevelopment  educationalecologies  knowledgeability  silos  transdisciplinary  organizations  organizationaldesign  socialconstructs  society  meta  experientiallearning 
june 2015 by robertogreco
more-than-human lab - On anthropology, not ethnography, and design
"“Let me begin by restating what, I think, anthropology is. It is, for me, a generous, open-ended, comparative, and yet critical inquiry into the conditions and potentials of human life in the one world we all inhabit. It is generous because it is founded in a willingness to both listen and respond to what others have to tell us. It is open-ended because its aim is not to arrive at final solutions that would bring social life to a close but rather to reveal the paths along which it can keep on going. Thus the holism to which anthropology aspires is the very opposite of totalisation. Far from piecing all the parts together into a single whole, in which everything is ‘joined up’, it seeks to show how within every moment of social life is enfolded an entire history of relations of which it is the transitory outcome. Anthropology is comparative because it acknowledges that no way of being is the only possible one, and that for every way we find, or resolve to take, alternative ways could be taken that would lead in different directions. Thus even as we follow a particular way, the question of ‘why this way rather than that?’ is always at the forefront of our minds. And it is critical because we cannot be content with things as they are.

[…]

Like participant observation, design offers anthropology a way of working that avoids the schizochrony of ethnographic inquiry, and a viable alternative to traditional anthropology-by-means-of-ethnography. The observations, descriptions and propositions of design anthropology are not retrospective but prospective: their purpose is not to interpret but to transform. Design, in short, is not and cannot be a practice of ethnography; it is rather an alternative way to ethnography of doing anthropology – a way that releases the speculative and experimental possibilities of the discipline that the traditional appeal to ethnography has suppressed.”

—Tim Ingold: Design Anthropology Is Not, and Cannot Be, Ethnography (.doc) [https://kadk.dk/sites/default/files/08_ingold_design_anthropology_network.doc ]"
timingold  design  designanthropology  ethnography  anthropology  listening  criticalinquiry  inquiry  speculativedesign  experimentation  observation  holism  criticaldesign  open-ended  unfinished  comparison  via:anne 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Ethnography for aging societies: Dignity, cultural genres, and Singapore's imagined futures - FISCHER - 2015 - American Ethnologist - Wiley Online Library
"Social theory generated in and about Singapore lies in psychic depths and archive fevers of an immigrant society subjected to accelerated social changes that devalue the lives of those marked by aging. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Singapore, weaving together four kinds of data sets—gerontology psychiatric research and intervention; changing ritual forms; analytically phenomenological, paraethnographic theater and stories; and student video and drama projects—I argue that new literacies, pedagogies, and practices can foster enriched community life in posttraumatic, aging societies. Focusing on meaning and affect, and referencing Derrida on hauntology, archive fever, survie, and grammatology (as syntax of social configurations within which aging occurs, or, sociocultural texts, narratives, and symbols), I build on the ethnographic literatures on aging and explore strong metaphors of monstrous history (taowu), ghosts (hantu), obliviousness brought by prosperity (fat years), and intercultural repetition compulsions of unfilial children (Lear)."



"Histories’ shadows, ghosts, and specters are always present in the tangled political maneuverings of Southeast Asian nation-states. The elderly, often silenced, are among the keepers of these stories, the quotidian and lived realities coursing beneath the nationalist propaganda used by power holders to justify their “national interests” or “national security.” Ancestors’ graves are places for the fading and ever more haphazard retellings, particularly in Singapore, where graveyards are steadily being removed, producing legacy ghosts that not frequently, but also not infrequently, are said to cause bulldozers used in new construction to break down, requiring the rites of Taoist priests to smooth the way (e.g., Comaroff 2009)."

[via: http://justinpickard.tumblr.com/post/120173878395/histories-shadows-ghosts-and-specters-are ]
dignity  singapore  ethnography  elderly  aging  ancestors  graves  ghosts  2015  society  grammatology  hauntology  jacquesderrida  michaelfischer 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Taylor & Francis Online :: Minotaure: On Ethnography and Animals - Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern Literatures - Volume 67, Issue 1
"The surrealist magazine Minotaure (1933–39) demonstrated a vivid interest in ethnography as it set out to explore the “human” according to an early twentieth-century ethnographic conception of universality that proposed to undercut the rule of Western culture over the definition of humanity. The surrealists, however, went even further by extending this exploration to the animal: The pages of Minotaure constantly juxtapose humans and animals and bring forth an empirical redefinition of the human through the observation of its purported other. As a result, they give shape to a nonanthropocentric ethnography that searches for the “sources” of humanity apart from familiar Western humanist presuppositions. Their endeavor raises important questions about ethnography itself as it brings us in a novel way to this fundamental question: What constitutes the human, beyond the pervasive divide between culture and nature?"
2013  via:anne  humanism  minotaure  surrealism  ethnography  anthropocentrism  animals  affierentzou  1930s  culture  nature 
march 2015 by robertogreco
K. Verlag | Press / Books / THE SUBJECTIVE OBJECT
"THE SUBJECTIVE OBJECT

The Subjective Object engages with the controversial site of the ethnographic museum and the role of the archive. In particular, the 1920’s photographic archive of the indigenous people of India by the German physical anthropologist and racist theorist Egon von Eickstedt (1892–1965) serves as a case study for an investigation into the role of historical artifacts in light of contemporary political situations. The nine interviews with curators, artists, anthropologists, and social workers provide the core of the book actively discussing the complicated issues around the archive’s function in producing know- ledge. An annotated thread of images serves as a critical apparatus addressing the visual history of ethnographic display and classification practices—both in the scientific field as well as the cultural field at large. Questioning the assumption that the archive presents the “fact” of the “Other,” three literary texts counterpoint the inherent fantasies within scientific research. Just as the book begins with an archive—the Eickstedt photos—the book ends with a new archive—photos of the exhibition The Subjective Object – (Re)Appropriating Anthropological Images at the GRASSI Ethnographic Museum of Leipzig—illustrating the project’s desire to not only engage with the history of display but also to propose a future of display strategies and social engagement.

Interviews with: Carola Krebs, Meghnath, Theo Rathgeber, Nora Sternfeld, Alexandra Karentzos, Christopher Pinney, Philip Scheffner, Britta Lange, Jesko Fezer + Raqs Media Collective

Literary Texts by: Franz Kafka, Brion Gysin + Suzan-Lori Parks

 

Published on the occasion of the exhibition:
The Subjective Object – Von der (Wieder-)Aneignung anthropologischer Bilder, GRASSI Museum für Völkerkunde zu Leipzig.

Curated by: Nicola Beißner, Anna Dobrucki, Anna Jehle, Julia Kurz, Anja Lückenkemper, Barbara Mahlknecht, Katja Thekla Meyer, Ksenija Orelj, Katharina Schniebs, Nefeli Skarmea, Anna-Sophie Springer, Edda Wilde und Olga Wostrezowa.

A project of "Kulturen des Kuratorischen" an der Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig 

 

Edited by Anna-Sophie Springer

142 Pages (Bilingual Deutsch/English)
Color + black/white images
ISBN: 978-0-9877949-1-8

Retail Price 10 € (out of print)"
books  anna-sophiespringer  ethnography  anthropology  egonvoneickstedt  museusm  objects  carolakrebs  meghnath  theorathgeber  norasternfeld  alexandrakarentzos  christopherpinney  philipscheffner  brittalange  jeskofezer  raqsmediacollective  kafka  vriongysin  suzan-loriparks  thesubjectiveobject 
march 2015 by robertogreco
FIELD | A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism
"FIELD: A Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism

We are living through a singular cultural moment in which the conventional relationship between art and the social world, and between artist and viewer, is being questioned and renegotiated. FIELD responds to the remarkable proliferation of new artistic practices devoted to forms of political, social and cultural transformation. Frequently collaborative in nature, this work is being produced by artists and art collectives throughout North, South and Central America, Europe, Africa and Asia. While otherwise quite diverse, it is driven by a common desire to establish new relationships between artistic practice and other fields of knowledge production, from urbanism to environmentalism, from experimental education to participatory design. In many cases it has been inspired by, or affiliated with, new movements for social and economic justice around the globe. Throughout this field of practice we see a persistent engagement with sites of resistance and activism, and a desire to move beyond existing definitions of both art and the political. The title of this journal reflects two main concerns. First, it indicates our interest in a body of artistic production that engages the broadest possible range of social forces, actors, discursive systems and physical conditions operating at a given site. And second, it signals a concern with the questions that these projects raise about the “proper” field of art itself, as it engages with other disciplines and other modes of cultural production.

How do these practices redefine our understanding of aesthetic experience? And how do they challenge preconceived notions of the “work” of art? For many in the mainstream art world this opening out is evidence of a dangerous promiscuity, which threatens to subsume the unique identity of art. As a result this work has been largely ignored by the most visible journals and publications in the field. At the same time, an often-problematic concept of “social engagement” has become increasingly fashionable among many museums and foundations in Europe and the United States. There is clearly a need for a more intelligent and nuanced analysis of this new tendency. However, it has become increasingly clear that the normative theoretical conventions and research methodologies governing contemporary art criticism are ill-equipped to address the questions raised by this work. FIELD is based on the belief that informed analysis of this practice requires the cultivation of new forms of interdisciplinary knowledge, and a willingness to challenge the received wisdom of contemporary art criticism and theory. We seek to open a dialogue among and between artists, activists, historians, curators, and critics, as well as researchers in fields such as philosophy, performance studies, urbanism, ethnography, sociology, political science, and education. To that end the journal’s editorial board will include a diverse range of scholars, artists, historians, curators, activists and researchers. It is our belief that it is only at the intersections of these disciplines that can we develop a deeper understanding of the cultural transformations unfolding around us.

–Grant Kester, founder and editor, FIELD


FIELD Editorial Board

Tania Bruguera is an artist and the founder of Immigrant Movement International. Her most recent project is The Museum of Arte Útil.
Teddy Cruz is Professor of Public Culture and Urbanism in the Visual Arts department at the University of California San Diego, and Director of the UCSD Center for Urban Ecologies.
Tom Finkelpearl is the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for New York City and the editor of What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Duke University Press, 2013).
Fonna Forman is Associate Professor of Political Science, founding co-director of the UCSD Center on Global Justice and author of Adam Smith and the Circles of Sympathy: Cosmopolitanism and Moral Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
Dee Hibbert-Jones is Associate Professor of Art and Founder and Co-Director of the Social Practice Research Center at UC Santa Cruz.
Shannon Jackson is the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in the Arts and Humanities at UC Berkeley and author of Social Works: Performing Art, Supporting Publics (Routledge 2011).
Michael Kelly is professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, author of A Hunger for Aesthetics: Enacting the Demands of Art (Columbia University Press, 2012) and editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics.
Grant Kester, Field editor and founder, is professor of art history at UCSD and author of The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context (Duke University Press, 2011).
Rick Lowe is an artist, founder of Project Row Houses in Houston, and member of the National Council on the Arts.
George Marcus is the Director of the Center for Ethnography and Chancellor’s Professor and chair of the department of anthropology at UC Irvine, and author of Ethnography Through Thick and Thin (Princeton University Press, 1998).
Paul O’Neill is the Director of the Graduate Program, Center for Curatorial Studies, Hessel Museum of Art, Bard College, New York.
Raúl Cárdenas Osuna is an artist, theorist, and the founder of Torolab collective and the Transborder Farmlab in Tijuana, Mexico.
Francesca Polletta is Professor of Sociology at UC Irvine and author of It Was Like a Fever: Storytelling in Protest and Politics (University of Chicago Press, 2006).
Greg Sholette is an activist, artist and professor in the Social Practice Queens program at Queens College and the author of Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture (Pluto Press, 2011).
Nato Thompson is Chief Curator, Creative Time, New York City and editor of Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011 (MIT Press, 2012).

FIELD Editorial Collective

Paloma Checa-Gismero
Alex Kershaw
Noni Brynjolson
Stephanie Sherman
Julia Fernandez
Michael Ano

Thanks

FIELD would like to acknowledge the generous support of the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA), the UCSD Division of Arts and Humanities, and the UCSD Visual Arts department."
ucsd  art  criticism  artcriticism  grantkester  taniabruguera  teddycruz  tomfinkelpearl  fonnaforman  deehibbert-jones  shannonjackson  michaelkelly  ricklowe  georgemarcus  paulo'neill  raúlcárdenasosuna  francescapolletta  gregsholette  natothompson  palomacheca-gismero  alexkershaw  nonibrynjolson  stephaniesherman  juliafernandez  michaelano  ucira  socialpracticeart  knowledgeproduction  urbanism  environmentalism  2015  education  alterative  experimental  participatorydesign  design  participatory  glvo  via:javierarbona  politics  arts  culturalproduction  aesthetics  socialengagement  museums  interdisciplinary  ethnography  sociology  philosophy 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Read More, Write Less | Savage Minds
"Years ago, when I started returning to Havana, the city where I was born, I had the good fortune to be welcomed into the home of Cuban poet, Dulce María Loynaz. By then she was in her nineties, frail as a sparrow, nearly blind, and at death’s doorstep, but enormously lucid.

Inspired by her meditative Poemas sin nombre (Poems With No Name), I had written a few poems of my own, and Dulce María had the largeness of heart to ask me to read them aloud to her in the grand salon of her dilapidated mansion. She nodded kindly after each poem and when I finished I thought to ask her, “What advice would you give a writer?”

I’ll always remember her answer. It came without a moment’s hesitation and could not have been more succinct: Lee más, escribe menos, “Read more, write less.”

That might seem like old-fashioned advice in our world today, where so many of us aspire to write more. But having pondered Dulce María’s words, I think I now understand the significance of what she was saying.

It comes down to this: you can only write as well as what you read.

But when we read, we need to do so as writers, assessing the myriad decisions another writer made to produce a text we loved or hated, or worst of all, that left us totally indifferent.

For those of us who want to write ethnography, the first thing we must do is read ethnographies not as receptacles of information, which is how we are taught to read in graduate school, but in a writerly way.

Read Ruth Benedict’s Patterns of Culture to learn how she uses the poetic tools of metaphor and repetition, emphasizing a line quoted from one of her interlocutors, “Our cup is broken,” to evoke the loss and melancholy felt by Native Americans in the aftermath of conquest and colonization.

Read Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men to learn how to create a talking-at-the-kitchen-table-with-a-friend voice that immediately draws you in as a reader: “And now, I’m going to tell you why I decided to go to my native village first. I didn’t go back there so that folks could make admiration over me because I had been up North to college and come back with a diploma and a Chevrolet.”

Read Claude Lévi-Strauss’s Tristes Tropiques to learn how to employ self-deprecating irony in the very first line of your book: “Travel and travellers are two things I loathe—and yet here I am, all set to tell the story of my expeditions.”

Read José Limón’s Dancing with the Devil to learn how to use interior monologue and humor to interrogate the very notion of doing fieldwork: “Been doing it since junior high school in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the late fifties. But I’m not very good at it… Consolation: I’m not here to dance, really. I’m an anthropologist. Forget consolation: Maybe I won’t be any good at that either.”

In these classic texts, you know who is telling the story and why. There is a strong authorial presence, to the extent that the writers share their misgivings about their writing, bringing you into the intimacy of their thought process. Each has a voice, unmistakable and memorable, impossible to confuse with any other, just like you can tell the difference between Van Gogh and Salvador Dalí. Hard as this is to reconcile with anthropology’s strong commitment to cultures, communities, and collectives, the best writers of ethnography are unflinching individualists. They don’t write swappable lab reports. They cultivate their sentiments; they attempt to express not just what they think but what they feel.

But reading ethnography alone isn’t enough to make us better writers. Our genre is a latecomer to the literary tradition, so it is necessarily a blurred genre that borrows from many other forms of writing.

We need to read poetry to understand silences and pauses. To challenge the oppression of punctuation. To learn how to make words sing. To liberate ourselves from chunky paragraphs.

We need to read fiction to learn how to tell a story with conflict, drama, and suspense. To learn how to tell a story that leaves us breathless.

We need to read memoir to learn how to write meaningfully about our own experiences.

Children’s books should be on our shelves, to keep our souls full of wonder.

We can’t read everything, but choose a genre or a set of authors that you put on a pedestal and read with pure awe and write towards that vision of perfection.

But you are no doubt wondering: how to move from reading to writing?

Don’t start with the information you want to convey. Ask yourself first what emotion is driving you to write. Anguish? Outrage? Regret? Amazement? Sorrow? Gratitude? Or is it a complex mix of feelings? Begin by acknowledging the heart.

Then dive into all you know with your head, all the things you have carried back to your desk. An ethnographer creates an archive from scratch, drawing on notes, recordings, documents, photographs, videos, and these days, even emails and Facebook posts. We are the guardians of what we witnessed. But significant as our research is, we shouldn’t dismiss memories that surface later when we sit down to write, memories of things we didn’t think worthy of being in the archive.

Immerse yourself in your archive in whatever way works for you, whether it’s jogging while listening to your recorded interviews or creating a visual narrative by organizing your pictures to tell a story. And spend time thinking about what you left unsaid, so you understand what you put in the frame, what counted and didn’t count as knowledge to you.

Write from the specific to the general, choosing images, events, encounters from your archive. Linger, using all the tools that feel right—dialogue, interior monologue, description, metaphor, and sensual details. Also write about the things that didn’t make it into your archive and ask yourself why you left them out. Keep going in this way, illuminating lots of small moments, until you see the shape of the larger narrative emerge. Eventually, if you wish, you can incorporate conversations with scholars and writers who have come before you, doing what is known as “the review of the literature” and “theorizing.” But focus on telling the story only you can tell, the story that is your responsibility, your gift.

Every ethnographer reinvents the genre of ethnography when sitting down to write. Our genre will always be quirky because it comes about through the magic of a unique intersection in time and space between a set of people and a person who wants to tell their story. This moment of shared mortality is improvised and fleeting, and won’t ever be repeated. There is something so spiritual about ethnography. We try to honor, with accuracy and poetry, a fragment of what was revealed to us.

Keep in mind that uncertainty will haunt you during the whole process of writing. Even after numerous revisions, you will likely fail to live up to the ideal of what you hoped to be able to write. When you finish, admit to yourself it’s flawed, but feel blessed that you told a story that was yours alone to tell.

Always remember, if you get stuck, your teachers, other writers living and dead, are right next to you. Your beloved authors are ready to show you how they resolved a problem that is vexing you. Those authors you hated, they’ll help you too, teaching you through counterpoint what kind of writer you want to be. As for the authors you found forgettable, let them go gently into that good night. Keep learning and keep trying. Read more, write less, and you will write better."
anthropology  writing  ethnography  glvo  via:anne  ruthbehar  howwewrite  listening  reading  howweread  uncertainty  storytelling  narrative  poetry  ethnographicwriting  zoranealhurston  ruthbenedict  claudelévi-strauss  josélimón 
february 2015 by robertogreco
New book on 'Design Ethnography' — pasta and vinegar
"Here's the book blurb:
"What do designers mean when they say they’re going to do “ethnography” and “field research”? What are the relationships between observing people and designing products or services? Is there such a thing as a “designerly” way of knowing people? This book is a report from a research project conducted at HEAD – Genève that addressed the role of people-knowing in interaction/media design. It describes the wide breadth of approaches used by designers to frame their work, get inspiration or speculate about plausible futures. This book presents practitioners’ tactics and illustrates them with several cases. Unlike many resources on user-centered design, it takes a broader approach to design by considering cases in which design is not only a problem-solving activity, but a tool to speculate about the near future, reformulate problems or propose a critical discourse on society. In doing so, this book helps designers, students and consultants to challenge their own perceptions and update their approaches."

The book is a collective effort, with texts from John Thackara, Julian Bleecker, Sara Ljungblad, Gilles Baudet, Anab Jain and Jon Ardern, James Auger, Virginia Cruz and Nicolas Gaudron, Liam Young, Fabian Hemmert, Steve Portigal, Gordan Savičić and Selena Savić, Anne-Catherine Sutermeister and Jean-Pierre Greff. 

It can be purchased online here at we-make.it [http://we-make.it/shop/ and http://wemakeitberlin.tictail.com/product/design-ethnography ]"
design  ethnography  designethnography  nicolasnova  johnthackara  julianbleecker  saraljungblad  gillesbaudet  anabjain  jonardern  superflux  jamesauger  virginiacruz  nicolasgaudron  liamyoung  fabianhemmert  steveportigal  books  gordansavičić  selensavić  anne-catherinesutermeister  jean-pierregreff  futurism  speculativedesign  disign  nearfuture  fieldresearch  research  observation 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Sonic Ethnographer: An Interview with Ernst Karel | Institute of Contemporary Arts
"Ernst Karel is Lecturer on Anthropology, Assistant Director of the Film Study Center, and Lab Manager for the renowned Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University. In his audio projects, he works with analog electronics and location recordings, sometimes separately, sometimes in combination, to create pieces that move between the abstract and the documentary. Karel collaborates with filmmakers as a sound recordist, mixer, and sound designer. Notably, Karel has worked on key films produced at the Sensory Ethnography Lab including Sweetgrass (2009) and Leviathan (2012), both of which were released in UK cinemas via Dogwoof.

Manakamana, directed by Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez and produced by Leviathan directors Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
, is the latest feature documentary from the Sensory Ethnography Lab to play at the ICA Cinemas. On the eve of the film's release, Dogwoof's Patrick Hurley caught up with Karel for the ICA Blog to talk about his post-production sound work on this film as well as his own sonic artwork made while traveling in cable cars.

Patrick Hurley: As well as doing the mix for Manakamana, you've also created an album of recordings from Swiss mountain transport systems. What do you find sonically interesting about cable cars?

Ernst Karel: That project, which resulted in a CD called Swiss Mountain Transport Systems, an 8-channel sound installation and a 5.1 version for imageless cinema, began in 2008 when my partner, Helen Mirra, was living in Basel, Switzerland, on a year-long artist residency. At that time, walking had become a central part of her art practice, and the work she was making involved day-long hikes in the mountains. I joined her for part of the summer and the fall. Our first walk together involved traveling by train and then gondola (aerial cable car) to reach the hiking trail. I was struck by the sounds of going up the mountain: the whirrs and clangor of the base station’s machinery, the slam of the door as the small pod swings around and, with a series of thuds, is launched into a sudden and subdued near-silence, the austerely beautiful low drone of distant motors transmitted through the heavy cable to resonate in the enclosed space suspended from it, interrupted periodically by rhythmic pummeling when the car passes over rollers, the open windows that allow transient acoustic glimpses of a vast surrounding landscape inhabited by humans and other animals.

It’s an emergent music that at the same time indexes a particular emplacedness. The unprocessed recordings of Swiss Mountain Transport Systems document the various transport systems which are specific to Switzerland’s mountainous terrain—gondolas, funiculars, chairlifts—of different types, of different vintages, and accessing different elevations, recorded from within these mostly-enclosed mobile environments. In this way the project is a sonic investigation into the integration of such technology into the Swiss social-geographical landscape.

Patrick Hurley: ICA Cinema-goers will be familiar with Sweetgrass and Leviathan, and this weekend will have the opportunity to experience Manakamana. As a common denominator among these films—having done the sound mix and compositions for each—could you tell us where you've replicated certain techniques and cases in which you've tried new things?

Ernst Karel: Well, clearly the movies could hardly be more different from each other, and so the sound for each was approached quite differently. But at the same time, one thing that they have in common is simply a commitment to place, to the sounds that emerge from a particular encounter. In each case that starts with the sync sound recorded along with the image, though here Leviathan and Manakamana could not be more different: Manakamana was recorded immaculately in stereo by Stephanie Spray, in sync with but separately from the 16mm image, and the soundtrack for Leviathan started and grows outward from the weird electroacoustic music that emerged from the encounters between the plastic-encased sport camera’s built-in mono microphone and its harsh environment. So each was really an opportunity to try out new things.

Patrick Hurley: When Leviathan came out, it was often compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Stephanie Spray has commented that when you worked on the sound for Manakamana, you helped them to 'emphasise particular frequencies over others for a subtle sci-fi effect'. Regarding both films, I’m interested to know if you were deliberately trying to create or invoke something otherworldly? It’s a curious objective in non-fiction film…

Ernst Karel: I think this might be an instance of the notion that a goal of anthropology is to make the familiar strange and the strange familiar. I wasn’t intending an otherworldliness per se, but rather an in-depth investigation into the nature of the place, and for example in Manakamana in sections where there is less speaking, when we therefore have occasion for close listening to the rich acoustic environment of the cable car’s mechanism and the passing landscape, that meant paying attention to the resonant frequencies of the cable car’s drone, and sometimes tweaking the sound to subtly emphasize those tones.

Patrick Hurley: Sound takes extra prominence during the end credits of both Leviathan and Manakamana for which you have done original compositions. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process here?

Ernst Karel: The sequence following the credits in Leviathan featured an extended composition for the multichannel space of the cinema that made the most of the odd electroacoustic sonorities I mentioned before, loosened somewhat from reference to immediately present images. At the end of Manakamana, during the credits this time rather than after them, we similarly are freed from being tied to an immediate audiovisual experience, and the composition opens outward somewhat."
ethnography  2014  interviews  patrickhurley  ernstkarel  leviathan  anthropology  manakamana  film  sound  fieldrecordings  music  stephaniespray  sensoryethnographylab 
january 2015 by robertogreco
an xiao studio: the virtual studio of an xiao mina
"Curator Herb Tam once called me a "poet-ethnographer", which sounds about right to me.

I'm an artist, designer, writer and technologist. My overall interest is looking at and shaping how we use technology in creative and surprising ways to build communities and express ourselves socially and politically, in both local and global contexts. I am interested in new modes of storytelling and cultural translation where citizen-created media take center stage. I take a multidisciplinary approach, engaging in this area through research and writing, social media art and photography, and design and design strategy.

I'm currently working with Jason Li to found The Civic Beat, a global research group and consultancy focused on intersections in internet culture and civic life. I also work as a designer and product lead at Meedan, where we're building a social translation platform for social media. And because I have too much free time, I also write, lecture and consult, and I serve as a consulting editor for the award-winning arts blog Hyperallergic. My master's is with Art Center College of Design's Media Design Practices program, in partnership with UNICEF Uganda and the award-winning Designmatters. My research there was supported by a grant from Intel's Vibrant Data project. I will soon be starting an arts journalism fellowship with USC Annenberg and the Getty Center.

I like tofu, chickens and colorful scarves. I don't get enough sleep.

The Short Story

An "An Xiao" Mina (www.anxiaostudio.com) is an American artist, designer, writer and technologist. In her research and practice, she explores the intersection of networked, creative communities and civic life. Calling memes the "street art of the internet", she looks at the growing role of internet culture and humor in addressing social and political issues in countries like China, Uganda and the United States. Her writing and commentary have appeared in publications such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, Wired and others, and she has lectured at conferences such as the Personal Democracy Forum, the Microsoft Social Computing Symposium and Creative Mornings."



"Working Assumptions

Communications technologies present new ways to build unique global and local communities and to empower individuals to educate themselves, express their beliefs and explore their creative potential.

We need an expanded definition of design to encompass design's role in building systems and strategies. Design is both aesthetics and problem solving, and it has a powerful role to play in making technologies that are accessible and impactful.

We cannot effectively design without knowing deeply the persons, cultures and contexts we are working with. Thoughtful research and people knowing are essential to any creative practice.

Artists and artistic practices play a vital role in modern society and deserve promotion, funding and recognition. By placing art within digital media, we increase the possibilities of collaborative creation and participant engagement.

Our work can and should coexist with the pursuit of financial security and emotional well-being. Conscientious consumption and sustainable business are welcome buzz words when meaningfully put into practice.

With only about a third of the world's population now online, all of us speaking different languages and living within different cultural contexts, we still have much work to do in building a truly global community. It's people, with the help of machines, who start the important process of bridging linguistic, cultural and geographic divides.

Technology doesn't replace face to face interaction; online and offline worlds complement each other. This is why coworking spaces, hacker collectives, professional conferences, casual meetups and other collaborative/group events are becoming increasingly important.

The more we share, collaborate, collude and co-create, the closer we get to a sustainable, just and happy world.

Wholesome, delicious, scrumdiddlyumptious meals devoured alongside lively conversation and/or quiet reflection are essential fuel along the way."



"What the Heck is a Virtual Studio?

When I was living in New York, people constantly asked me where my studio was. I didn't really have one, but that didn't stop me from pursuing a career in art and design. As most of my work is digital, my studio is in my computer and anywhere I set it up. But there's more to it than that. Here are a few definitions of "virtual" from Merriam-Webster:

* being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted
* being on or simulated on a computer or computer network
* occurring or existing primarily online

An Xiao Studio, then, exists primarily online. Projects can happen anywhere, and the possibility for collaboration is any time. I have no brick and mortar studio--that space could be a coworking space, a cafe, an airplane, a tent in the desert. But I've engaged in a number of design, art and research projects in concert with many people scattered around the world. The studio exists in essence; it's virtually a studio. It's a virtual studio."
art  anxiaomina  artists  media  socialmedia  ethnography  digital  internet  meedan  design  networkedculture  thecivicbeat  community  communities  expression  photography  technology  virtualstudios 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Entrevista a Lucien Castaing-Taylor y Véréna Paravel (SEL) on Vimeo
[interview is in English]

"Entrevistamos a los cineastas Lucien Castaing-Taylor y Véréna Paravel del Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL) de la Universidad de Harvard. Los directores de LEVIATHAN, FOREIGN PARTS O SWEET GRASS, entre otras, comparten con nosotros su particular visión del arte en este encuentro."

[Other interviews:

Leviathan. Coloquio con Lucien Castaing-Taylor y Véréna Paravel.
https://vimeo.com/91540567

Lucien Castaing-Taylor "Sweetgrass" (Q&A)
https://vimeo.com/57703329

Leviathan Audience Q&A with Lucien Castaing-Taylor at EIFF 2013
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYyDl1oWFzE

Véréna Paravel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfKBa9Vrh-w

Lucien Castaing-Taylor
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amxa-dEXl3Y ]
luciencastaing-taylor  vérénaparavel  sensoryethnography  sensoryethnographylab  2014  filmmaking  ethnography  anthropology  video  leviathan  foreignparts  sweetgrass  documentary 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Design + Ethnography + Futures | Symposium
"10th – 11th December 2014

Invitation only symposium

Through this symposium we will explore how by bringing together Design + Ethnography + Futures we can deliberately step out of established disciplinary methodologies. This means moving into the future with people and challenging what we habitually do and think about. We want to open up a space where we can question the taken-for-granted, trigger genuine surprise, play with the edges of boundaries and reconfigure ways knowledge is produced.

Throughout 2014, we have been developing an agenda for our Design + Ethnography + Futures programme to propose a new meeting of design and ethnography through a focus on futures. D+E+F builds on design anthropology and design ethnography, but is not exactly either of these. Our work, which has developed through a series of workshops and iterating research projects, has focused around concepts of knowing, sharing, making, moving and disrupting. We are exploring how the future orientation of combining design + ethnography approaches invites different forms of change-making, where uncertainty and the ‘not-yet-made’ is at the centre of inquiry. It brings the improvisory, playful, imaginative, sensorial and somewhat contested edges of both fields to create an opening to experiment with what might emerge out of an assembly of ideas, people, feelings, things and processes.

This symposium is above all a context where we will get to explore these ideas with you – by talking and engaging in workshop-like activities. By ‘hacking’ a traditional symposium format, we are inviting you to explore together ways not to know, rather than sharing what we each already know through argument and consolidation. In joining us in this endeavour, we are also asking the participants to ‘let go’ of their preconceptions behind, forego the need for a resolution, and enter into this together, to anew and awaken and become more aware of the emergent.

By embarking on this journey, we also have some specific and more strategic objectives:

• To consolidate a global network of researchers who will continue to develop these themes together, located in hubs across the world;
• To apply for funding internationally for future network meetings;
• To look into possibilities for applying for research funding together for shared projects; and,
• To produce a publication output as well as creative practice works where relevant.

Sarah Pink & Yoko Akama
RMIT Design + Ethnography + Futures research program leaders"
via:anne  uncertainty  ethnography  design  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  anthropology  sarahpink  yokoakama  events  workshops  notknowing  future  hacking 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Three Uncertain Thoughts, Or, Everything I Know I Learned from Ursula Le Guin | Design Culture Lab
"One.

In her 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin writes, “The unknown, [...] the unforetold, the unproven, that is what life is based on. Ignorance is the ground of thought. Unproof is the ground of action . . . [T]he only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”

If the only certainty is death, then to deny uncertainty is to deny life.

My work (creative? social science?) is vital not in the sense of being necessary or essential, but energetic, lively, uncertain. In a short 2006 piece in Theory, Culture & Society, Scott Lash argues that the classical concept of vitalism has re-emerged in the face of global complexity and uncertainty, manifesting itself in cultural theory that acknowledges that “the notion of life has always favoured an idea of becoming over one of being, of movement over stasis, of action over structure, of flow and flux.”

In my research I take seriously the idea that what I am seeing, doing and making is emergent; I cannot know how — when, where, for whom or why — it will all end. I can only live with, and through, it. This means I do not want to convince others that I am right. (Have you ever noticed that Le Guin’s stories unfailingly explore ethics and morality without dealing in absolutes?)

I only — as if this were a small thing! — invite you to accompany me for a while, and see what we can become together. This is just — as if this too were a small thing! — one way of knowing the world.

Two.

In a 2014 interview for Smithsonian Magazine, Le Guin explains that the future is where “anything at all can be said to happen without fear of contradiction from a native. [It] is a safe, sterile laboratory for trying out ideas in, a means of thinking about reality, a method.”

My work makes things, and explicitly makes things up, in some near or far future. I practice different worlds.

Fictions and futures give me (you? us?) space to move, and be moved. This is the space of utopia, but not an idealist utopia set against a pessimist dystopia. Fictions and futures are literally no-places: real but not actual, and always vital. I feel as though I thrive in these spaces, both grounded and reaching toward the sky, open to the elements, potential.

But here’s something I’ve learned: I can’t make up anything and expect it to work. The stories need to resonate. And that means they need to be internally coherent and consistent, plausible. So I locate others and myself empirically, ethnographically. I look to the hopes and promises that bind us together, to the threats that rip us apart, and I look to the expectations that constrain and orient us along particular, but not certain, paths.

And then I imagine it (me, you, us) otherwise.

Three.

In her 2007 essay “The Critics, the Monsters, and the Fantasists,” Le Guin clarifies “although the green country of fantasy seems to be entirely the invention of human imaginations, it verges on and partakes of actual realms in which humanity is not lord and master, is not central, is not even important.”

My imagination has sought out this vital, “green country of fantasy” by focussing on possible futures for multispecies, more-than-human, agents. But I’ve yet to be successful in my quest to avoid anthropocentrism. (My dragons remain stubbornly human!)

Still: I follow Donna Haraway’s argument, in 2007’s When Species Meet, that “animals enrich our ignorance.” When I look at people and technology and design and everyday life with — and through — animals I am never more uncertain about what they all mean. To take animals (and other nonhumans) seriously forces me to let go of many preconceptions, even when I fail to imagine a plausible alternative.

But perhaps that uncertainty is only appropriate, too."
annegalloway  2014  ursulaleguin  unknown  uncertainty  unproven  certainty  death  life  scottlash  vitalism  complexity  culture  theory  morality  ethics  absolutism  knowing  unknowing  future  futures  fiction  worldbuilding  process  method  making  speculativefiction  designfiction  ethnography  imagination  utopia  dystopia  potential  fantasy  invention  design  anthropocentrism  multispecies  donnaharaway  ignorance  technology  preconceptions  posthumanism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Ethnographic Fiction: The Space Between | Savage Minds
"My ethnographic material demanded a particular genre: a film, when I was working on visual war culture in Iran and a sound project, when I was working on international war photography. Despite the change in mediums, what remained the same were the hours of research and even more hours of writing. As my five year-old would let you know, without research I wouldn’t have a story to tell because I’m just not any good at making them up or at refraining from analyzing and educating alongside narrating. In my latest eight-year long attempt at writing a novel based on fieldwork on underground theater, I couldn’t bear not to throw in my analysis and theorize or to stick to an omniscient narrative. I finally broke down at year six and explicitly added the ethnographic back in to the novel through the addition of a first person voice which analyzes and theorizes the ethnographic material. I simply stopped trying to choose between a novel and ethnography and embraced the in-between: a novel or neo-ethnography.

This latest ethnography on Iranian theater is akin to Italian neorealism, in which real people played themselves with lines scripted by a writer toward the goal of creating social change, a new reality. Whether I’m writing the script or writing about the play, what I’m doing or trying to do is to play with ethnography in a very serious way. I believe ethnography is the genre that is most malleable, most inspiring, most in-between. It gives my loose meanderings a purpose, it gives just living a vocation, it gives gossip and nosiness legitimacy. Ethnography makes me feel twice alive, in person and then on the page. It allows me to analyze, to overthink, to take refuge in that place where I feel that everything is explainable and controllable … and then it explodes. My ethnographic notes are a dictionary, a book of short stories, a litany of mistakes and misunderstandings. My ethnographic writings are soon filled with the opposite of ethnography, and yet are still filled with life and then when life needs protection, needs cover, needs space to breathe and to change, there is fiction. Fiction allows me to write about Iran uncensored, allows me to play and to change the ending. The thing about ethnography is there isn’t an ending. No one writes The End at the end of an ethnography. Instead it’s the beginning of discussion, of thought, of change and it’s where as a writer I’ve found my home, my identity."
via:anne  2014  ethnography  ethnographicfiction  speculativeethnography  fiction  roxannevarzi  anthropology  identity  neorealism  narrative  storytelling 
october 2014 by robertogreco
In Search of Lost Time | The Evergreen State College
"How does memory shape our identities and our sense of the world? How do our personal experiences, our ties with others, and larger social forces affect what we remember, and why? This inquiry will take the work of Marcel Proust as focus and inspiration for exploring these questions. Students will also create their own original research and writing on memory-in-action—crafting a memoir, an oral history, or an investigation of an historical or cultural memory-topic that grows out of our studies.

We will do a sustained, in-depth reading of the first two volumes of Proust's 4000-page masterpiece of early 20th century literature, In Search of Lost Time (also known as The Remembrance of Things Past ). Heralded as one of the first examples of the modern novel, Proust's work crystallized and refracted key psychological, cultural and sociological concerns of the emerging "modern age." To place our understanding of this literature in context, we will study fin-de-siècle European and intellectual history and thinkers like Bergson, Halbwachs, Freud, Benjamin, and even Einstein’s theories of space and time. We will also examine innovative recent scholarship about ways in which memory can be "collective" in specific communities and whole societies today. We will play with the intertwining of time, memory, identity, and meaning in a wide range of French, American and other contexts, including some films that make powerful use of these themes.

This is a literature-history-and-folklore focused, reading and writing-intensive program. Students will read 300+ pages of complex texts each week, participate in two weekly seminars on Proust plus a third seminar on dynamics of memory in everyday life, and write about these texts. Over the course of the quarter you will develop, revise and share your memory project with ongoing guidance from faculty and dialogue with peers. Your work will culminate in a polished essay and a presentation in our symposium.
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  americanstudies  anthropology  ethnography  writing  literature  culturalstudies  culture  history  folklore  media  education  staceydavis  samuelschrager  proust  marcelproust  memory 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The steel man of #GamerGate — The Message — Medium
"Every so often, the Long Now Foundation here in San Francisco hosts a debate. It might be about nuclear power or synthetic biology or perhaps the very notion of human progress — high-stakes stuff. But the format is nothing like the showdowns on cable news or the debates in election season.

Instead, it goes like this:

There are two debaters, Alice and Bob. Alice takes the podium, makes her argument. Then Bob takes her place, but before he can present his counter-argument, he must summarize Alice’s argument to her satisfaction — a demonstration of respect and good faith. Only when Alice agrees that Bob has got it right is he permitted to proceed with his own argument — and then, when he’s finished, Alice must summarize it to his satisfaction.

The first time I saw one of these debates, it blew my mind.

Our democratic culture has, I believe, basically given up on debate as a tool for changing minds or achieving consensus. Instead, we use it as a stage for performance, for political point-scoring. When we debate — and this is true whether it’s a big televised event or a little online roundtable — we direct our arguments not at our opponents but rather at our allies. We rile the base. We face the choir. We preach!

Apparently, the Long Now Foundation didn’t get the memo, and neither did L. Rhodes. In his piece addressing #GamerGate, he truly speaks to his opponents, and his focus never wavers. There are no winks to his allies and no dog whistles that I can detect. It’s a miracle of tone. There are so many opportunities to be snide, to score a point — just one little point! — and he takes none of them.

Rhodes’s piece reminded me, also, of Alan Jacobs’s reference [http://www.theamericanconservative.com/jacobs/thomas-nagel-is-admirably-fair-minded/ ], years ago, to the philosopher Thomas Nagel’s review of a book by the philosopher Alvin Plantinga. Nagel is a staunch atheist; Plantinga, a devout Christian.

Jacobs wrote:
Having confessed that he “cannot imagine believing what [Plantinga] believes,” Nagel nevertheless must acknowledge that Plantinga is doing excellent philosophical work and that his arguments cannot be easily dismissed. Moreover, Nagel clearly relishes simply being exposed to ways of thinking so alien to his own — he obviously finds it refreshing.

Instead of the straw man argument — that scourge — we have the steel man: “the best form of the other person’s argument, even if it’s not the one they presented.”

The fact that Nagel takes this approach shouldn’t be surprising; it has long been valued in philosophy and rhetoric, and more recently by the so-called “rationalist” community online. This is laudable — I mean, these people really know how to argue! — but there’s an inertness to the practice in those communities: a sense, too often, of arguments unfolding for their own sake in a hermetically-sealed arena.

So the thing that impresses me about Rhodes’s piece is that it is real: enmeshed in a real conversation and addressed to real opponents, which implies real risk. This isn’t a philosophy symposium; it’s a roiling argument that has spawned mobs of internet harassers.

Did Rhodes’s piece turn #GamerGate around? No.

Did it change a few people’s minds? There is evidence, here on Medium and also on Twitter, that it did. In this culture — on this internet — that’s a small miracle.

There’s a recipe available here, for anyone brave enough to use it: strong arguments presented in good faith not to our allies but to our actual opponents. I use the word “brave” very consciously, because I believe this is just about the most dangerous kind of writing and thinking you can do."



"This kind of writing is dangerous because it goes beyond (mere) argumentation; it becomes immersion, method acting, dual-booting. To make your argument strong, you have to make your opponent’s argument stronger. You need sharp thinking and compelling language, but you also need close attention and deep empathy. I don’t mean to be too woo-woo about it, but truly, you need love. The overall sensibility is closer to caregiving than to punditry."
debate  empathy  ethnography  listening  robinsloan  lrhodes  alanjacobs  thomasnagel  alvinplantinga  goodfaith  strawman  steelman  strawmen  steelmen  philosophy  rhetoric  conversation  goodwill  mindchanging  mindchanges 
september 2014 by robertogreco
'The Wire' and the Realism Canard - The Awl
"Q: So I wonder what you think of Pam Newton's argument that one of the ways that The Wire is not true to life is that it downplays police corruption?

A: Truth is always from some subjective point of view. If you read David Simon's Homicide, which is one of the two books of non-fiction which feeds into the lore and the data of The Wire—Simon just loves those cops. He was like a twenty-four-year-old reporter who got to follow the cops around and go drinking with them, and I think that there are ways in which he is blind to things that were wrong with the police. But he knows a lot about the cops and their ways, and he knows a lot about the drug dealers and their ways. Because he did a year long study of both that was ethnography. And then he loves them—more than he loves the politicians, for example.

Q: You referred to David Simon's methods as ethnography, and I was thinking about Christina Sharpe's piece in The New Inquiry, where she talks about Alice Goffman's On the Run and the ethical issues raised by urban ethnography. Sharpe suggests for example that studying black people and policing black people are often part of a single continuum of control. Is The Wire a way of rationalizing and controlling and consuming the lives of certain black communities, in the interest of letting white people say, "I understand them now"?

A: I understand that criticism. And I certainly understand the criticism of the anthropologist, the journalist, the ethnographer, who goes to the foreign culture and tries to understand it, and then gets praised for their own marvelous understanding of that which would be beyond the pale if we didn't have that mediating white voice to present things. That's precisely what I think is less good about David Simon's journalism, and great about The Wire: The journalism is full of this kind of white interpretive voice that really does see an us and a them. The thing I quote from his early journalism, where he says, "The ants are here. The picnic is us," in that piece called "The Metal Men,” there it is: The ants are the people he's studying, the drug addicts, and "the picnic is us"—our houses in Baltimore, we propertied middle-class white people.

I think you're suggesting that there are ways in which The Wire has not totally divested itself of that voice, and you may be right. But it's done it better precisely because we lose David Simon's voice, and we get Bubbles, Colvin, everybody else. I would say that The Wire is more exempt from that criticism than most other works of the imagination that try to get into a culture of the other. There is a criticism of melodrama there that is well-founded, though; melodrama is what we're stuck with here."

"Q: We're stuck with melodrama because that's what The Wire is doing?

A: No. We're stuck with melodrama because it's what the culture does. It is our lingua franca of popular entertaining culture. These are the stories that we tell ourselves, in the broadest sense. Melodrama is limited; all it can do is point out these discrepancies in justice. There is a little democratic impasse that is inherent to melodrama. And yes, you can get ironic in melodrama—there are ways to handle it, but it is a limit. We want to identify and identify with the people to whom injustice is done. The only problem with that is that can end up being the white people in Birth of a Nation. Melodrama does not have a progressive ideology necessarily.

Q: In Birth of a Nation you identify with the Klan as the victims of injustice?

A: Yes, it's the former slaveowners who are oppressed by the former slaves. So that's the limit of melodrama. But I think it's important to identify the works that move us, and that grab us so well, as melodrama, and then study the way it operates. Rather than to always say, it's not melodrama, it's real, it's true. Or, Simon's way of doing it, which is to say it's tragedy.

Q: So would you identify ethnography as a kind of melodrama?

A: That's a good question. I think in many cases it is. Why do you become an ethnographer? It's because you want to understand disappearing cultures. I know that's a simplification. But you want to go travel to the Amazon and learn the language of the people who are disappearing because their culture cannot operate in this world. That kind of salvage ethnography is a kind of melodrama—“I'm going to do something to save them”—and that saving comes through a kind of understanding of the meaning and the logic of that culture."
thewire  davidsimon  2014  noahberlatsky  ethnography  alicegoffman  ethics  christinasharpe  lindawilliams  film  television  melodrama  pamnewton 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Sympathy for a Desert Dog - NYTimes.com
"“/Kunta,” he said addressing me by my Bushman name, “the problem with you whites is that you think dogs behave like humans or even that your dogs think that they are humans. They are not humans. They are dogs. Their ways are different.”

It took me a while to understand Kaice’s point and the apparent indifference of the Ju/’hoansi to the suffering of dogs. It seemed at odds with the idea that Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers had deeply empathetic relationships with the animals they lived among. But in time I learned that this is precisely what justifies the indifference.

Ju/’hoansi insisted that animals were people. Not humans but people. They asserted that each species of animal had its own physical forms, customs, habits and ways of experiencing and interacting with the world. Ju/’hoansi claimed to know this because they observed, engaged with and empathized with the animals with whom they shared their world.

Most pet owners claim that the sympathy they offer their pets is based on an empathetic relationship with them built on traits our species and their species have in common — in the case of dogs their sociability, their loyalty, their gratitude.

But this is a different understanding of empathy than that which hunter-gatherers like the Ju/’hoansi had for their animal neighbors.

For them animal empathy was not a question of focusing on an animal’s human-like characteristics, but of assuming the whole perspective of the animal. Their animal empathy defied verbalization. To empathize with an animal you couldn’t think like a human and project your mind-set into it; you had to “be” the animal.

This view of empathy was the product of millennia of living among the wild animals of the Kalahari as “neighbors” and hunting them. Where other peoples defined themselves by reference to other tribes or nations, Ju/’hoansi defined themselves in terms of the their differences from the lions, elephants, aardvarks, elands and many other desert creatures they lived among. Their animal neighbors were a constant source of fascination. Any interesting or unusual animal behaviors, habits and interactions would generate considerable discussion. Their knowledge of the animals was such that they were able to establish an animal’s apparent motives and actions from a few scuffs in the sand, sometimes a day or two old, and accurately predict its movements or behavior on this basis. But their success as hunters, after all, depended on their ability to accurately anticipate the behavior of their prey. And this, they insisted, required empathy.

Typically Ju/’hoansi hunted with small poison arrows that lacked fletching. It took great skill and knowledge to get close enough to an animal to shoot it and even greater skill to able to track the animal down as the poison did its work, which could take between six and 48 hours depending on the size of the animal. After shooting a large animal like an oryx or a giraffe, a hunter would memorize the individual animal’s spoor and return the following morning to track it down.

When a hunter found and followed his prey’s spoor he would not merely read it but surrender himself into it, living each footfall that scuffed the sand. In doing so he plunged into his prey’s consciousness, dissolving the boundary between the hunter and the hunted. Finally, by consuming their prey, the hunter and the prey’s relationship would move from an empathetic union to a physical one as they literally became of one body.

But this kind of empathy did not persuade Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers to feel sympathy for animals or assume a duty of care for them. Rather it made people focus more on the non-human behaviors of animals rather than what they had in common. Among people who considered themselves to be just one of many different kinds of animal-people in a wild environment, hunting, death and pain were parts of everyday life. Human compassion did not extend to other species.

My relationship with Dog, as the Ju/’hoansi reminded me, was an artifact of the Neolithic Revolution. The domestication of the wolf was but a small part of a transition that fundamentally reconfigured how humans related to their environments. Where they once saw themselves as one of many creatures sharing environments, they now placed themselves at its center and sought mastery over it. Accordingly animals were divided into a series of new categories based on how they fit into the human world. Some were designated pets or “livestock” – and a duty of care was extended to them. Others were designated pests or vermin. Animals ceased to be considered different kinds of “people,” and those like dogs were selected and bred, for human-like traits, among other things, that we could easily empathize with without displacing our sense of ourselves as humans.

My and Dog’s lives intersected momentarily. And I am glad they did. We were both Neolithic orphans stranded in a Paleolithic world. The Ju/’hoansi’s sense of interspecies relations and their extraordinary empathy was right for the wild animals that shared their world, and there is much we can learn from it. But when it comes to dogs, and other creatures that have evolved to crave our affection, I am glad to be a child of the Neolithic."
dogs  pets  animals  culture  anthropology  ethnography  empathy  sympathy  anthropomorphism  2014  africa  jamessuzman  via:anne  relationships  animalhumanrelationships 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Qallunaat! Why White People Are Funny by Mark Sandiford - NFB
"This documentary pokes fun at the ways in which Inuit people have been treated as “exotic” documentary subjects by turning the lens onto the strange behaviours of Qallunaat (the Inuit word for white people). The term refers less to skin colour than to a certain state of mind: Qallunaat greet each other with inane salutations, repress natural bodily functions, complain about being cold, and want to dominate the world. Their odd dating habits, unsuccessful attempts at Arctic exploration, overbearing bureaucrats and police, and obsession with owning property are curious indeed.

A collaboration between filmmaker Mark Sandiford and Inuit writer and satirist Zebedee Nungak, Qallunaat! brings the documentary form to an unexpected place in which oppression, history, and comedy collide."

[via: https://twitter.com/hautepop/status/500408331211931648 ]
documentary  towatch  ethnography  marksandiford  inuit  qallunaat  arctic  anthropology  film 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Black Life, Annotated – The New Inquiry
[See also this list of further reading: http://thenewinquiry.tumblr.com/post/94356357959/further-reading
'To Supplement Dr. Christina Sharpe’s essay, Black Life, Annotated, TNI asked Sharpe to create a syllabus for further reading on the subject and she graciously obliged, with help from Mariame Kaba and Dr. Tamara Nopper." ]

"When Goffman starts her PhD program at Princeton she confesses to experiencing culture shock. She has been living in another world and so she no longer gets the cultural cues and references of her Princeton peers — hipsters, music, current events, witty email banter, Facebook, and iPods. She has, during her six years living on 6th Street, confined herself to the media and entertainments of the young men at the center of the study. I take Goffman’s accounts of alienation both in and after her immersion in life on 6th Street at face value, though she presumably had access (or the license to refuse access) to current events, email, witty banter, and iPods in the time she spends away from 6th Street with her family.

In light of the ways that she is disoriented by her temporary foray, we ought to reassess the relationship between Goffman and her primary subjects — only one of whom has a high school diploma and most of whom have rarely, if ever, ventured far from 6th Street. Goffman can make jumps that are ontologically impossible for subjects of her book. Even Josh, the one young man who leaves to attend college, ends up back on 6th Street and unemployed for two years after graduation because of his deep connections to people in the community. For Goffman, though, “the prospect of graduate school became [her] lifeline.” The structural division widens: In the interview with Jennifer Schuessler, Goffman recalls wondering if she could afford to be arrested: “They said that with a felony record, I couldn’t teach at a public university. For a second I thought, ‘Should I take this job?’” But, as the interviewer tells us, Goffman chose the job over jail. No other 6th Street resident who appears in the book has such a choice. (And this is not a matter of class. Recall the studies that show that white men who are high school dropouts or who have a record are more likely to be hired than black men with no record and a college degree.)

In her “Appendix: A Methodological Note,” Goffman addresses questions of method, consent, and how she “negotiated her privilege while conducting fieldwork.” Never fear: Goffman owns that “white privilege” and informs us that she had “more privilege than whiteness and wealth: my father was a prominent sociologist and fieldworker [Erving Goffman]“ and her mother and adopted father are also “professors and devoted fieldworkers.” She writes that wealth, education, the family business of ethnography “perhaps” “may have” given her “the confidence and the resources to embark on this research as an undergraduate.” And “perhaps my background, and the extra knowledge and confidence it gave me, also contributed to professors encouraging the work and devoting their time so freely to my education.”

Nevertheless, Goffman concludes that, “none of these advantages seemed to translate into … situational dominance, or at least not very often.” And most alarmingly and myopically, “In many situations, my lack of knowledge put me at the bottom of the social hierarchy. I hung out on 6th Street at the pleasure of Mike and Chuck along with their friends and neighbors and family. They knew exactly what I was doing and what I had on the line; whether I got to stay or go was entirely up to them.” Obscured here are not only what we might concede to be Goffman’s pleasures but the pleasures to be had by the reader of this text in, what Joy James elsewhere identifies as, such work’s “appeal to the ‘moral conscience’ of the dominant culture.” And rather than “white privilege” and “situational dominance,” we should be talking about ontology, captivity, white supremacy, and antiblackness.

On the Run raises no alarms for most readers precisely because it is sociology as usual as it is done in “urban” communities. The New York Times interview tells us that her thesis “advised by the noted ethnographer Elijah Anderson, won her a book contract from the University of Chicago probably the first based on undergraduate research the publisher has ever signed.” (A book contract for an undergraduate thesis!) Alex Kotlowitz in an otherwise admiring review does raise important questions about Goffman’s “über-version of immersion journalism.” Among them he writes: “Goffman at times makes rather sweeping statements or offers up the occasional anecdote, mostly relating to law enforcement, without an indication of the source.” This work raises profound ethical questions. And by ethical questions, I mean questions of power. “I am interested in ethics,” says Frank Wilderson, “which is to say that I am interested in explaining relations of power.”"



"While Newburn bemoans the dampening effect of Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and the increasing regulation of academic research, those protocols were put in place to try to decrease the possibility that certain populations would be made vulnerable to “imaginative and risky work.” Let me be very clear. I do not think that following proper protocols is the answer or even an answer; the IRB process itself is already completely structured by these ways of framing and seeing. Nevertheless, I am concerned about the risks Goffman’s presence posed to her subjects — increased attention by the police, undue stress on personal lives etc. I am concerned that there is no IRB protocol on file for her undergraduate thesis at the University of Pennsylvania. And while the Princeton IRB protocol on file may be backdated to include the research Goffman did as an undergraduate, that’s an exceptional procedure. I am concerned, but not surprised, that critics have overwhelmingly embraced this book as it abets fantasies of black pathology.

Indeed, Goffman displays a certain sympathy for and with the police:
This justifiable anger [toward the police] does not mean that we should view the police as bad people or their actions as driven by racist or otherwise malevolent motives. The police are in an impossible position: they are essentially the only governmental body tasked with addressing the significant social problems of able-bodied young men in the jobless ghetto, and with only the powers of intimidation and arrest to do so. Many in law enforcement recognize that poverty, unemployment, and the drugs and violence that accompany them are social problems that cannot be solved by arresting people. But the police and the courts are not equipped with social solutions. They are equipped with handcuffs and jail time.

That this is a cynical conclusion or a craven one becomes even clearer alongside Betts’s critique of her unsubstantiated and “unsettling claims about Philadelphia police practices” and Frank Wilderson’s argument that, “violence … precedes and exceeds blacks.” Put another way, what Goffman describes as the bind of police having “only” the “powers of intimidation” and “arrest” accounts neither for the entirety of the apparatus aimed at corralling black life nor for the violence that she witnesses as foundational and not mere examples of conflicts in civil society between the police and the black subjects whom “they are charged to protect.” Rather, what this book fails to grasp and what much of sociology cannot account for even as it reproduces its logic is that the violence everywhere and everyday enacted by the state on black people is the grammar that articulates the “carceral continuum of black life.” All black life, on the street and on the page.

So, the black communities of 4th and 6th Street continue to be laboratories in which Goffman and other student and faculty researchers at the University of Pennsylvania do field work. With its frisson of “authenticity,” On the Run may have a long and varied life ahead ( mini-series? feature film?) shaping misperception and abetting black narrative and material subjection. I already know that this book will be chosen for First Year common reading programs and that all over the US, historically white colleges and universities with small black undergraduate and faculty populations will read and then reproduce as truth On the Run’s ethics and methods; which is to say its relations and practices of power. In the neoliberal “engaged” university, On the Run is sure to be a primer for how to do immersive “urban” ethnography. And so continues, into the next generation, within and outside of the university, what Sylvia Wynter has called our black narratively condemned status."
christinasharpe  alicegoffman  2014  ethics  ethnography  blacklife  power  sociology  privilege  academia  research  neoliberalismmariamekaba  tamaranopper 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Teaching Reflections: Design Ethnography #1 | Design Culture Lab
"But the real highlight came when she shared photos taken by schoolchildren at Talimi Haq School in Priya Manna Basti, Howrah (Kolkata). For this ethnographic research, Lorena used photovoice, “a collaborative participatory method where people in marginalised communities are encouraged to take photos of things they consider important in their lives, or that capture their lived experiences.” She provided cameras and training, and asked the students to work in pairs to photograph a ritual or activity that was important to them and arrange it as a photo essay or narrative. We then looked at the photos and Lorena asked the students what they suggest about the lives of the children and life in Priya Manna Basti. For example, the girls took photos of water–something that is very strictly controlled in the slum and integral to cooking and cleaning (considered women’s work). The boys took photos of school and street cricket, emphasising play (classes are voluntary and held after a full day of work). The students were very good at noticing gender differences, spatial contexts like domestic and public space, as well as the different poses of people pictured (i.e. some looked directly at the camera, but most did not).

This exercise sets up our second assignment quite well, but for now we still have to concentrate on practicing observation and interview skills, and then interpreting what was seen, done and heard. Students are still struggling with making assumptions about what they see and hear, although I’m very impressed by how few have got stuck on making judgements. The students are bright and sensitive, but I think it can be difficult to understand a point of view that we’ve never before encountered or with which we disagree. I had hoped that limiting their fieldwork to family and friends would reduce the amount of cultural dissonance encountered, but it seems to also make it harder for them to get past the taken for granted."
annegalloway  ethnography  designethnography  teaching  education  pedagogy  2014  observation  photography  photovoice  autoethnography 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Choice-Making with Head and Heart: Finding the Ethnographic Center of Strategy | EPIC
Pull-out: "The power of ethnography is not in its methods, but in the way it shapes our perspective on the world. "



"Being an anthropologist has been a core part of my personal identity since graduate school – not because of all the years of schooling or the grueling dissertation, but because a holistic, systemic, and people-centered perspective on the world became woven into the fabric of who I am. The power of ethnography is not in its methods, but in the way it shapes our perspective on the world. We frame complex problems in holistic ways, seek out connections between micro-behaviors and macro-dynamics, and are inspired by the rich color of people’s stories. An ethnographic perspective helps us find meaning in everything we look at. Applying that perspective in our work is about translating that meaning into action.

These skills are all fundamental to the choice-making enterprise of business strategy. Recently I have had the great fortune to facilitate and inspire strategy development alongside leaders of multi-million dollar businesses, and truly experiment with applying our ethnographic tools to this endeavor. At Steelcase, all corners of our company are steeped in design thinking and we share corporate goals around people-centered, insight-led strategy and innovation. We have been upping the ante by expanding the role of our insights from product and service design to business strategy design, and this has provided me a rich opportunity to yet again reframe my own ethnographic perspective.

Here are some thoughts on why I believe more of us should be doing business or corporate strategy work:

Understand, imagine, and make choices.

We are pattern-finders of complex systems. We dig deep to understand root causes. We are attuned to the interactive dynamics between social and economic forces. We identify levers and triggers. We can paint pictures of complex landscapes. But that in itself is not enough. How will you chart a path through that landscape? What will you pursue and what will you leave behind? At Steelcase, we leverage a lot of tools from Roger Martin’s work to help us with this – define your ‘wicked problem’ for the business; apply integrative thinking to bring together disparate frames; and imagine future scenarios or ‘happy stories.’ What kinds of futures does the world offer this business? Imagine what could be, test the options, and then make informed choices.

Practice and partner.

Too frequently in the business world, research is treated as a service. Changing this attitude towards ethnography needs to begin with all of you. Present your ethnographic expertise as a practice and a way of making sense of your business. Position yourself as a partner to others who bring complementary practices to the table. Be honest and authentic, learn from and with your partners, and iterate your strategies as you go. By consistently practicing and learning as part of a multidisciplinary team, you are infusing more reliability into the choice-making endeavor and minimizing risk as you run your strategy scenarios through diverse perspectives and frames.

Lead with heart.

Strategy is about choice-making and setting direction, and robust strategies set a compelling direction with vision that people in the organization want to follow. As ethnographers, we often find ourselves as champions of people outside our organizations. My advice is to mirror that heart back into your organization. MIT’s Otto Scharmer has worked extensively on leadership approaches centered around an ‘open mind-open heart-open will’ framework, and I highly recommend looking at some of his work through your ethnographic lens. In many ways, he is talking about applying the ethnographic perspective internally to a team and organization. Empathy is not just what we do for our ‘users’ – it’s what we should be doing for our own colleagues and organizations.

In closing, a call to action.

Experiment with the ethnographic center of strategy – by putting your people skills to work to frame, find meaning, make choices for your business, and design stories that create compelling visions for everyone in your organization."
ethnography  perspective  2014  leadership  donnaflynn  via:anne  learning  empathy 
july 2014 by robertogreco
EPIC | Advancing the Value of Ethnography in Industry
"EPIC promotes the use of ethnographic principles in the study of people and social phenomena.

Our goal is to enable the community to explore, debate, and engage in knowledge production. By illuminating the arc of social change through theory and practice, we can create better business strategies, processes and products, as well as enhance and simplify people’s lives in a digital age. EPIC committed to the view that theory and practice inform one another and that the integration of rigorous methods and theory from multiple disciplines creates transformative value for businesses.

EPIC provides both an on-line presence and an annual conference to facilitate the community’s commitment to ethnographic knowledge production and action. The EPIC on-line platform provides a venue for year-round engagement, enabling community members to participate in discussions around the work we do and to better comprehend the diversity and impact of ethnographic work we are all leading today.

The annual EPIC conference brings together a dynamic community of practitioners and scholars concerned with how ethnographic thinking, methods and practices are used to transform design, business and innovation contexts. Presenters and attendees come from technology corporations, product and service companies, a range of consultancies, universities and design schools, government and NGOs, and research institutes. Our annual conference submissions go through a double blind-peer review process. EPIC’s conference proceedings are published by Wiley Blackwell.

EPIC is a 501(c)(3) incorporated in the state of Oregon."
ethnography  resources  via:anne 
july 2014 by robertogreco
On Digital Ethnography | Ethnography Matters
"When Tricia asked me to contribute a series on Ethnography Matters, I thought that I would take this opportunity to bring together the notes on digital ethnography that I have collected over the last couple of years. I would like to push the boundaries of computational usage in ethnographic processes a bit here. I really want to expand the definition of digital ethnography beyond the use of computers, tablets, and smart phones as devices to interact with online communities, or to capture, transfer, and store field media.

In this three-part series, I am going to discuss how working with computational tools could widen the scope of ethnographic work and deepen our practice. I will stay mostly within the domain of data gathering in this first post. In the second post, I will talk about the process of field data interpreting and visualizing; and the last post, I will focus on how the digital may transform ethnographic narrative and argumentation."

"On Digital Ethnography, What do computers have to do with ethnography? (1 of 4)"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2012/10/27/on-digital-ethnography-part-one-what-do-computers-have-to-do-with-ethnography/

"On Digital Ethnography: mapping as a mode of data discovery (2 of 4)"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2012/12/05/on-digital-ethnography-mapping-as-a-mode-of-data-discovery-part-2-of-4/

"On Digital Ethnography, magnifying the materiality of culture (3 of 4)"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/01/25/on-digital-ethnography-magnifying-the-materiality-of-culture-part-3-of-4/

"Ethnography Beyond Text and Print: How the digital can transform ethnographic expressions"
http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/12/09/ethnography-beyond-text-and-print-how-the-digital-can-transform-ethnographic-expressions/
ethnography  2012  wendyhsu  maps  mapping  culture  materiality  digitalethnography  ethnographymatters  via:anne  data  text  print  digital  audio  photography  geography 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Michael Wesch at Pasadena City College - YouTube
[Questions that burn in the souls of Wesch's students:
Who am I?
What is the meaning of life?
What am I going to do with my life?
Am I going to make it?]

[See also: http://mediatedcultures.net/presentations/learning-as-soul-making/ ]
education  teaching  michaelwesch  identity  cv  soulmaking  spirituality  why  whyweteach  howweteach  learning  unschooling  deschooling  life  purpose  relationships  anthropology  ethnography  canon  meaning  meaningmaking  schooliness  schools  schooling  achievement  bigpicture  counseling  society  seymourpapert  empathy  perspective  assessment  fakingit  presentationofself  burnout  web  internet  wonder  curiosity  ambiguity  controversy  questions  questioning  askingquestions  questionasking  modeling  quests  risk  risktaking  2014  death  vulnerability  connectedness  sharedvulnerability  cars  technology  telecommunications  boxes  robertputnam  community  lievendecauter  capsules  openness  trust  peterwhite  safety  pubictrust  exploration  helicopterparenting  interestedness  ambition  ericagoldson  structure  institutions  organizations  constructionism  patricksuppes  instructionism  adaptivelearning  khanacademy  play  cocreationtesting  challenge  rules  engagement  novelty  simulation  compassion  digitalethnography  classideas  projectideas  collaboration  lcproject  tcsnmy  op 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Upward Anthropology Research Community - Turning the Ethnographic Gaze on the People, Sites, and Practices of Power
"In 1972, Laura Nader called for anthropologists to “study up” – to turn the ethnographic gaze on the people, sites, and practices of power. With the creation of this community, we hope to provide resources, advice, information, and other forms of support to anthropologists who are currently or are interested in beginning this practice.

The seed for the community was planted about a year ago when a group of us were discussing the potential for anthropological methods (including all four fields) to document structures of power, identify weak points, and inform those who are engaged in resistance or simply trying to navigate those structures. Historically anthropological methods have been used to document and make visible the lives of marginalized or oppressed peoples. We don’t want to diminish the value of that work – it is important and necessary. However, in a world of increasing inequality, of power structures that encompass the globe, of unmitigated racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination, and of environmental crisis, we believe that making the invisible visible is not enough. By turning ethnography on those in power, we also make the visible more visible, and – hopefully – make it possible to “hack” the structures of power in order to undermine their inherent inequalities and create a more just and sustainable world.

Following these conversations, my friends and I organized a panel at the Fall 2013 Public Anthropology Conference at American University. We had a fair turnout – particularly thanks to that conference’s commitment to inviting members of the public, NGOs, activist groups, and practicing anthropologists. Many important issues were discussed in that first meeting, and we committed to holding regular meetings at conferences in the DC Metro area. A second panel was organized for the University of Maryland’s AnthroPlus conference this past Spring, and we are planning an event to coincide with the American Anthropological Association meeting in DC later this year (details to come).

In light of this upcoming event, we have decided to go public and broaden our community. This group started modestly as a DC Area research group, but power operates and proliferates all over the world. We hope that this community and the resources we are in the process of assembling will provide a useful base of support to those who are engaged in this type of research anywhere in the world. With that in mind, we hope you will help us in any way you can – by providing advice, suggestions, or material support, by contributing data, publications, and essays. We claim no privilege or monopoly on this community, and we hope to make it as open and accessible as possible, so if you’re interested, please feel free to contact me at jmtumd (a) gmail or through our twitter and facebook accounts."

[via: http://disabilityhistory.tumblr.com/post/90108204719/shrinkrants-laura-nader-quoted-from-up-the ]

[Related: Janine R. Wedel

"Professor Wedel has been a pioneer in applying anthropological insights to topics that are typically the terrain of political scientists, economists, or sociologists. After 25 years studying the role of informal systems in shaping communist and post-communist societies, Professor Wedel also turned her attention to the United States, and has identified some surprising parallels."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janine_R._Wedel#Shadow_Elite

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htC-tivdzj8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiXGcEpI-sI
http://shadowelite.net/
http://janinewedel.info/shadowelite.html
http://www.alternet.org/story/145533/shadow_elite%3A_how_the_world%27s_new_power_brokers_are_upending_our_democracy
http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_The_Shadow_Elite_WikiLeaks_And_Living_In_A_Dangerous_Era/2128991.html ]
lauranader  1972  2014  ethnography  anthropology  power  control  visibility  inequality  powerstuctures  gender  race  discrimination  environment  sustainability  capitalism  janinewedel  shadoelite  behavior  corruption 
july 2014 by robertogreco
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