July 14, 2011 § 3 Comments

ethnocharrette: a collaborative session of intense activity in which design thinking and methods are used to interrogate and explore ethnographic concerns

From its inception in 2005, one of the core projects of the Center for Ethnography has been to experiment with how studio settings and design processes might be usefully built into the various phases of ethnographic inquiry, and tailored to its specificities. The staging of para-sites in the pedagogy of dissertation projects has been one such endeavor. Now, in a planned series of “ethnocharrettes”, we address more explicitly the application of studio design settings to various phases of ethnography. We begin with the anthropological tradition of pedagogy in ethnographic research and what students can do collaboratively with their receptions of the still canonical form of the ethnographic text. In this initial series, we understand ourselves to be experimenting with a modality that might eventually have several different elaborations and functions within and alongside the development of ethnographic projects, from thinking through the idea for a project, to explicitly collaborative phases of fieldwork, to becoming a form of ethnographic production as a replacement for, or supplementary to, the standard genres of writing. We feel that the most effective way for a project of ethnographic research to be ‘public’ or relevant today is to open itself up to various constituencies in its different phases at the same granular, ‘micro’ scale at which it is produced. And that the design studio is the most appropriate forum, or theater, for this ‘becoming’ of ethnography at different phases of its ‘doing.’

This site contains reports on our first two experimentations. We welcome your interest, reactions, and suggestions.

– George E. Marcus and Keith M. Murphy