I am glad to be featured this week on the AnthroPod podcast, produced by the journal Cultural Anthropology. The piece is the first of three in a series on ethnography and design, featuring two other dear colleagues and my collaborators the past two years in the UC Collaboratory for Ethnographic Design, Lilly Irani and Keith Murphy. As an avid podcast listener myself, I am especially fond of the work that AnthroPod does to bring the anthropological perspective into my podcast app and earbuds (take that, Freakonomics!), and commendations are especially in order to the exceptional Tariq Rahman and Katherine Sacco, both in the PhD program at UC Irvine, who put the series together.
Over the past year, in my role as postdoctoral fellow for the Collaboratory for Ethnographic Design (CoLED), it’s been my great privilege to work with an outstanding array of scholars interested in the intersections and conundrums presented by thinking about ethnography and design.
A little over a year ago, in September 2016, we launched the CoLED website, which, with guidance from co-PIs Elana Zilberg and Joe Hankins, and groundwork laid by Yelena Gluzman, I was glad to develop.
Now, based on a year of work, and thanks to a workshop grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation and input from the CoLED faculty, postdocs, and graduate students across six UC institutions, we are so very excited to be presenting the fist CoLED conference, ETHNOGRAPHY & DESIGN: MUTUAL PROVOCATIONS. We are thrilled to present a conference that answers concerns brought by the scholars in our network: how can we make a conference that is about design and ethnography without reproducing a paradigm in which ethnography is constantly coopted for capital accumulation, as design enlists ethnographic techniques to work to produce value? How can we address the variety of stakes, concerns, approaches, disciplinary lenses, and arguments surrounding the ways that the words “ethnography” and “design” are circulating in our time? What would a conference program look like if the “standard” research presentation were demoted, and other “designs for ethnography” including artworks, performance, pedagogy, interactive digital interfaces, and experimental labs were offered equal footing? Who would even come to such a conference.
It has been a fascinating challenge and enthralling visioning process to work with the CoLED conference committee to bring this conference into existence. I’m personal very excited for the event, and I know that the rest of the team is as well. Please join us at UC San Diego next week, Oct 27-29th, for the event, or stay tuned for a multimedia conference publication to come.