Events / Updates


The Ethnography Lab is excited to launch its second annual speaker series, which will feature talented speakers who will share their insights and experience about ethnography. Housed in the University of Toronto Department of Anthropology, the Ethnography Lab strives to encourage dynamic discussion and experimentation with the various ways in which ethnography is practiced and imagined. This year we will host speakers from a variety of different backgrounds and departments to inspire the most interesting conversations about the dynamic research and writing method that is ethnography. Please refer to this post for regular updates.

Join us in the Ethnography Lab Seminar Room, located in the Anthropology Building, room 330, on select Fridays from 5-6pm for stimulating discussion.

This series is FREE and OPEN to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Contact Jessika Tremblay at for more information.

Friday, February 12th, 2016

5-6pm Anthropology Building Room 330


More than a decade ago, the ethnographic method started to get noticed in the field of market research. Market research is research with a specific purpose: To help companies better understand their current and prospective customers, to inform the design of new products or services and to improve the marketing of existing ones. ‘Ethnography’ or ‘anthropology’ has come to be known as a qualitative research tool that can give deeper insights than standard qualitative methods such as focus group discussions. However, the use of ethnography has remained limited, because of its time-and-cost-intensive nature. More recently, a new form of ‘ethnography without an observer’, also known as self-ethnography, has become popular. Dr. Barbara McGrath will explain the methods of ethnography and self-ethnography in the market research context, their benefits and drawbacks, compared to other market research tools, and the types of market research questions where ethnography can be most useful. In addition to discussing ethnography as a method, she will also touch on employment opportunities for anthropologists in the market research field.

Speaker: Barbara McGrath, PhD in Anthropology, University of Cologne, Germany; Creative Research Designs, Healthcare market research, Toronto

Friday, February 26th, 2016

5-6pm Anthropology Building Room 330


This project uses ethnographic methods of participant observation and interviews to explore the masquerade (mas) band ‘Euphoria’ which participated in the 2015 edition of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival (Caribana). The major objective of this project was to discover the factors that influence members of the mas band between the ages of 18 and 35 to take on influential roles in the band that both demonstrate proactivity and are indispensable to the band’s operations. The salient factor influencing the assumption of such roles was family relations, whether through a spouse, offspring or extended family. The family relations identified in this work yielded fruitful comparisons to Francis Henry’s seminal ethnography, The Caribbean Diaspora in Toronto: Learning to Live with Racism (1994), in terms of male/female relations. Based on the three case studies of this project, this comparison reveals a movement away from basic survival concerns and a movement towards gender equality among women in Toronto’s Caribbean community. This talk is supplemented with audio-visual recordings of mas band participants in the form of a documentary film.

Speaker: Bronwyn Frey, M.A. student, Festive Arts program, University of Limerick

Friday, March 4th, 2016


Carsten is preparing a AAA paper about the role of documents in management consulting. His primary interest is in exploring the materiality of documents in the management consulting industry, which produces a lot of documents but spends very little time theorizing document-related activities. In this presentation, Carsten will discuss his impressions of gaining access to, and interviewing, management consultants. What is it like to ethnographically interview people whose work experiences you share? What is it like to talk to people whose own work challenges them to continually produce and capture knowledge, albeit knowledge of a different kind? How accessible to ethnographic inquiry is a world that is actively constituted through theoretical explanation by one’s participants? How do we identify and interrogate conflicting ontologies and epistemologies when working ethnographically with people in our own culture? How do we ‘resist the temptation’ of ‘taking for granted’ what we’re being told?

Speaker: Carsten Knoch, Management Consultant, MA student, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

Friday, April 1st, 2016

5-6pm Anthropology Building Room 330


It is extremely rare for us to encounter researchers’ corporeality in the field as directly shaping the appearance of ethnographic products. No matter how hot it was in the field, the published book would not retain a drop of the researchers’ sweat. No matter how tired the fieldworker was, we do not find misspellings (usually) or indecipherable handwriting from the field. We cannot share the rough sound of a keyboard being tapped by frustrated researchers. In my film ethnographic research, however, my corporeality directly shapes the final product of ethnographic film. Through my participative approach in a judo gym, I have been training together with the people I observe and with my hand held camera. Since I often train and handle the camera simultaneously, sometimes I notice that my hands holding the camera become shaky due to my pounding heart/exhausted forearms. Based on this field experience, I intend to share epistemological and ontological issues of (re)presentation in conjunction with considering the possibility of film ethnography as a non-­‐representational approach.

Speaker: Yosuke Washiya, PhD candidate, University of Toronto, Graduate school of Exercise Sciences

Friday, April 8th, 2016

5-6pm Anthropology Building Room 330


From its beginning, socio-cultural anthropology was founded on ethnographic fieldwork. Often described as “going native,” anthropologists are expected to immerse themselves in the society they are investigating, by embracing the cultures, rituals, and traditions of their interlocutors, and living among them. A question that has emerged within anthropology over the last twenty-years or so, has challenged this form of methodology within the discipline: What if the anthropologist is “the native?” This paper explores what has broadly been referred to as “insider anthropology,” an anthropologist’s immersion in ethnographic fieldwork while also being an insider or “native” of a particular social group or society.” What are the challenges? What is at stake for the insider anthropologist? Are insider anthropologists “less critical” outsider anthropologists who “go native?” Through my own research on Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt and California, this paper seeks to address these questions and unpack common perceptions and misperceptions of insider anthropology.

Speaker: Joseph Youssef, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto

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