Greetings from the Center for Experimental Ethnography!
We are so excited to announce the launch of the Center for Experimental Ethnography!!
Why a new Center? And what is “experimental ethnography”?
Over the past twenty years, we have seen an “ethnographic turn” across a range of disciplines, a turn that has been grounded in participant-observation research and inductive analytic and theoretical processes. This turn has occurred not only within the humanities and social sciences, but also in professional schools, fine arts, and architecture. Whether in business, medicine, or law, photography, sculpture, or performance art, qualitative social science methods that yield thick descriptions of persons, locations, and processes of meaning-making have become more common as scholars and practitioners seek insights into the everyday worlds and ideas of their collaborators in the field.
At the same time, contemporary developments in technology – including inexpensive cameras, editing software and internet platforms for sharing work – have made new representational techniques widely available and familiar, especially to younger generations now moving into academia. As a result, we are witnessing a shift in orientation from the page to other representational formats – film, performance, soundscapes, games, drawing and design, among others – as researchers experiment with new platforms. These two shifts are opening new questions about the public responsibilities of the University in the twenty-first century.
What tools for research and communication should we offer the next generation of Ph.D. and graduate professional students?
What difference does genre make in research dissemination – analytically, epistemologically, and politically – and what modes of representation are meaningful and relevant?
How do non-text based formats transform the processes and products of research, and the boundaries of discipines?
In what ways is this work accountable to the communities from which it emerges and through which circulates, and what counter-spaces can be built to create new kinds of dialogue and new forms of recognition?
The CENTER FOR EXPERIMENTAL ETHNOGRAPHY is a forum dedicated to exploring these transformations. We seek to support the work of faculty and students who are working extra-textually, whether this be through the medium of film, performance, sound, creative writing, or art. We recognize that knowledge production is participatory, embodied, and social. We know that the space of the 21st century university must extend beyond its walls and beyond books and labs. And we understand that sometimes the most transformative experiences come through an encounter with a film, a performance, a poem, or a soundscape.
At the Center, we endeavor to coordinate scholarship, research, and public partnerships related to multi-modal work practices; to consolidate those activities in which we and our students are already engaged; and to grow these generative connections in order to make Penn a nationally- and internationally- known hub for these types of inquiry and practice.
By hosting Visiting Scholars each semester, we envision a dynamic and vibrant space that puts Penn students and professors in constant contact with others working in these fields elsewhere. We also seek to forge connections with Centers and Programs doing this kind of work internationally, and other institutions worldwide, serving as a hub for a wider network. We hope you will join us!!
Deborah A. Thomas
Deborah A. Thomas, Director of the Center for Experimental Ethnography, was featured in Penn Today! Watch the video, and read the full article: The healing word
Working in Community Visiting Fellows: Louis Massiah and Aimee Meredith Cox
This year, the CEE's theme is Working in Community.
This Fall semester, we welcome the CEE's first visiting fellow, renowned filmmaker, Louis Massiah. Louis Massiah is teaching the course Films of Utility: Analysis, Argument and Building Block.
In the Spring, Aimee Meredith Cox, of Yale University, will join us as the CEE visiting fellow. Aimee will be teaching the course Black Women Moving, which will explore the theory and methods employed by Black women ethnographers, artists, and activists invested in transforming the traditional norms of the academic disciplines and creative contexts in which they operate.
Come visit us at the CEE's space!
The CEE is housed at the Penn Museum, in Room 336 in the Anthropology Department wing. We have set up an equipment reservation program. Come check out our new space and learn what resources are available.
Our hours are Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm, but please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment.
An Evening with Louis Massiah
in conversation with John L. Jackson, Jr., Dean of Penn's School of Social Policy & Practice and Richard R. Perry Professor of Anthropology and Communication
Monday December 3, 2018
Rainey Auditorium Penn Museum
The evening will feature a 20-minute film excerpt of Massiah's new work-in-progress, The T.C.B. School of Organizing, a film that presents a biography of Toni Cade Bambara as a primer for social justice. The film will catalyze a conversation about using culture to organize community, and helping young activists to generate sustainable movements for social change, and this will be followed by a Q&A.
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