Ethnography in/ of the Pandemic / Ethnography Lab / Events / Public / Updates

Check out our Zoom recordings for the 2021-22 academic year!

We’ve uploaded our event recordings for the 2021-2022 academic year. Check out the videos below or head over to our YouTube page and subscribe!

Meet the Labs: Speculative and Collaborative Ethnographic Practice from Vancouver to Los Angeles (November 26, 2021)

The Ethnography Lab at the University of Toronto facilitates an encounter between Kate Hennessy of the Making Culture Lab at Simon Fraser University and Elizabeth Chin of the Laboratory of Speculative Ethnology at the Art College Center of Design in California, during which we hear about the projects and practices of these two distinct platforms for ethnographic research.

Our “Meet the Labs” series is an extension of the American Anthropological Association roundtable where we hope to connect and network with sister labs through a shared passion for ethnographic practice and methods. Together we will explore the possibilities of different organizational and institutional forms for the practice of ethnography.


COVID19 and Organizational Ethnography (November 30, 2021)

In a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the decisions of governments, institutions, and corporations influence dozens, thousands, and sometimes millions of lives. Understanding how such organizations respond to crises and why they choose particular strategies over others is therefore of critical importance. Ethnography can be an important tool in such understandings because it is well-suited to untangling and tracing on-the-ground power relations. In this informal panel, Julian Posada and Bronwyn Frey discuss how the lives of their interlocutors–Latin American data workers and Berlin food couriers, respectively–have unfolded over the course of the pandemic. They discuss to what extent the decisions of elites can be understood and accessed, how people within and under these organizations experienced these responses, and what leverage they have in influencing organizational responses to the pandemic.

Gamstorming for Ethnographic Data Analysis (January 31, 2022)

“Gamestorming” is a set of collaborative techniques — loosely structured like games — popular in private sector and nonprofit organizations. Gamestorming is used in group contexts to capture and process information, generate insights, solve problems and establish (or manufacture?) consensus. Usually, gamestorming activities take place during in-person meetings using white boards and sticky notes. During the pandemic, practitioners have increasingly adopted virtual whiteboards and other online tools to facilitate gamestorming. Gamestorming has come to be seen as a core tool in the “UX research” (user experience research) toolbox.

Carsten Knoch has used adapted gamestorming techniques to conduct group analysis sessions about ethnographic and interview data. While this may, at first glance, be an “off-label” use, sessions have generally been interesting, productive and made participants feel included in research work. In this Methods Café, Knoch will provide background, give examples (including “gamestorming game design”) and discuss how one might use the approach for a kind of “rapid, provisional” data analysis with friends or willing strangers. A short reading list will be included.

Meet the Labs: Emergent Methods for the Study of Mobility (February 28, 2022)

The Ethnography Lab at the University of Toronto facilitates an encounter between Biao Xiang, Director, The Mobility, Technology, and Well-Being Lab (MOLAB), Anthropology of Economic Experimentation, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology; Tarini Bedi, Mobilities and Methods Lab, University of Illinois-Chicago, Director, and Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology; and Melissa Cefkin, Senior Staff Researcher, Waymo.

Abstract: As mobility becomes ever more infrastructural, and its modes both more diverse and increasingly integrated, how do we make sense of what mobility as a social phenomenon entails? How do we understand mobility as a platform for thinking about and developing new technologies? How do we position socialities which develop through and within social relations uniquely mediated by mobility? How do we frame the intersections between mobilities of people and goods in the context of old and new forms of economic mediation? In this Meet The Labs panel discussion we will explore emergent framings of mobility as an object of research, and the institutional design and practice of its analysis, theorisation, and intervention.

The event was moderated by William F. Stafford, JR., Research Affiliate, Ethnography Lab, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Visual Studies, University of Toronto Mississauga. Presented in collaboration with Wilfrid Laurier University as part of a research project on “Ubering the City,” supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Our “Meet the Labs” series is an extension of the American Anthropological Association roundtable where we hope to connect and network with sister labs through a shared passion for ethnographic practice and methods. Together we will explore the possibilities of different organizational and institutional forms for the practice of ethnography.

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