(2018). Experimental collaborations. Ethnography through fieldwork devices. Edited book project for Berghahn’s EASA Book Series.

Anthropologists conducting fieldwork in distinctive sites of the contemporary, such as public institutions, activist collectives, artistic spaces and laboratories, have recently engaged in intense reflexive examination of their epistemic practices and methodological engagements. This book presents a series of ethnographic accounts in which authors share their methodological anxieties and reveal the creative inventiveness emanating from fieldwork practices that challenge what they had assumed to be the norm and form of ethnography. Populated by activists, artists, designers, public servants and scientists, these ethnographic sites appear to compel us—or provide the opportunity—to reconsider not only the epistemic practices, types of relationships and forms of engagement in our fieldwork, but also our accounts of the field. Taking on this challenge, contributors explore a descriptive approach to their projects, narrating the intimate relationships established with their counterparts and the interventions devised as forms of epistemic collaboration in the field that open venues for experimental interventions in ethnography.

Our discussion resonates with recent reflections contending that contemporary ethnographic fieldwork ‘is not what it used to be’ (Faubion and Marcus, 2009). We echo debates on the place of ethnography in the production of anthropological knowledge (Ingold, 2008) and the transformation of the norm and form of fieldwork in a series of projects that have injected an experimental drive (Rabinow et al. 2008). The reflections of Douglas Holmes and George Marcus (2005, 2008) are particularly relevant: their ethnographic projects led them to argue that if anthropology was to enter into domains populated by subjects that shared anthropologists ethnographic-like practices, or in their idiom, ‘para-ethnographic’ practices, it was essential to ‘re-function ethnography’ (Holmes and Marcus, 2005). In these ethnographic sites, collaboration would be the cornerstone from which to undertake fieldwork.

In the accounts compiled in this book, ethnography occurs through processes of material and social interventions that turn the field into a site for epistemic collaboration. Through creative interventions that unfold what we term as ‘fieldwork devices’—such as coproduced books, the circulation of repurposed data, co-organized events, authorization protocols, relational frictions, and social rhythms—anthropologists engage with their counterparts in the field in the construction of joint anthropological problematizations. In these situations, the traditional tropes of the fieldwork encounter (i.e. immersion and distance) give way to a narrative of intervention, where the aesthetics of collaboration in the production of knowledge substitutes or intermingles with the traditional trope of participant observation. Building on this, we propose the concept of ‘experimental collaborations’ to describe and conceptualize this distinctive ethnographic modality.

(2016). Special feature “Colaboraciones experimentales: Una modalidad etnográfica” & Introduction “Experimentación etnográfica: infraestructuras de campo y re-aprendizajes de la antropología“, Revista de Dialectología y Tradiciones Populares Vol 71, No 1 (2016) – DOI: 10.3989/rdtp.2016.v71.i1

[ES] Este tema propone una discusión en torno a la figura conceptual de las ‘colaboraciones experimentales’, una modalidad etnográfica cuya producción de conocimiento adopta una forma experimental fundada en relaciones colaborativas en el campo. Las contribuciones reunidas en el compendio dan cuenta de etnografías realizadas en sitios de activismo urbano o espacios artísticos, contextos poblados por comunidades epistémicas dedicadas a la producción de conocimiento, altamente reflexivas sobre sus condiciones de producción. Aunque breves en su provocación, las contribuciones dejan constancia de cómo esos sitios parecen ofrecernos la posibilidad, o plantearnos la necesidad, de reconsiderar la forma y norma del trabajo de campo etnográfico. La figura de las colaboraciones experimentales intenta nombrar y describir la implicación de los antropólogos y antropólogas en esos sitios. Es por lo tanto una figura descriptiva y una propuesta conceptual. Los trabajos aquí presentados nos ofrecen un vocabulario que describe la etnografía a través de conceptos como ‘infraestructuras de campo’, ‘plataformas públicas’ o ‘eventos realizados en colaboración’, que da cuenta del trabajo de campo como un 'estado borrador' o que propone formas de 'etnografía acción participativa' o 'experimentación participante'.
[EN] This emergent topic puts forward a discussion around the conceptual figure of ‘experimental collaborations’, an ethnographic mode whose knowledge production adopts an experimental form grounded on collaborative relations in the field. The contributions here gathered present accounts of ethnographies undertaken in sites of urban activism or artistic spaces, contexts populated by epistemic communities devoted to and highly reflexive over their conditions of knowledge production. Despite their brevity, these provocative pieces purport how those sites might offer us the chance, or indeed entail the need to reconsider the norm and form of ethnographic fieldwork. The figure of experimental collaborations seeks to name and describe the engagement of anthropologists in those sites. It is, hence, a descriptive figure and a conceptual proposal. The works here compiled offer us a vocabulary describing ethnography using concepts such as ‘field infrastructures’, ‘public platforms,’ or ‘events done in collaboration;’ giving an account of fieldwork as an ‘auto-draft’, or proposing forms of ‘participatory action ethnography’ or ‘participant experimentation.’

Table of contents 

[es] Experimentación etnográfica: infraestructuras de campo y re-aprendizajes de la antropología 9-30
Adolfo Estalella, Tomás Sánchez Criado
[es] Objetos textuales y dispositivos colaborativos: de la etnografía como plataforma pública 31-38
Isaac Marrero Guillamón
[es] Tiempos de colaboración: performances del conocimiento urbano 39-48
Montserrat Cañedo Rodríguez
[es] La colaboración como condición: la etnografía participativa como oportunidad para la acción 49-57
Luis Berraquero-Díaz, Francisco Maya-Rodríguez, Francisco Javier Escalera Reyes
[es] Auto-borradores: la antropología y la cultura difuminándose mutuamente 59-66
Alberto Corsín Jiménez
[es] Experimentaciones participantes en arte y antropología 67-73
Roger Sansi

(2016). Antropocefa: Un kit para las colaboraciones experimentales en la práctica etnográfica, Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia, Vol. 5, No 1, 155-167

Este artículo introduce una performance realizada por los autores en el contexto de Medialab-Prado presentando el kit ANTROPOCEFA para la renovación experimental y colaborativa de los métodos etnográficos. Inspirándose en el giro relacional y participativo en el arte, los autores querían explorar qué supondría trasladar esa sensibilidad a la producción de dispositivos etnográficos colaborativos para la investigación en y acerca de entornos de diseño y creación cultural y activismo. Esta performance marcó el inicio de un proyecto a través de diferentes plataformas sobre la etnografía bajo la figura de la “colaboración experimental”, intentando reflexionar sobre las promesas de este término para la redefinición de la teoría antropológica, la práctica etnográfica y su docencia.
(2015). Experimental collaborations: An invocation for the redistribution of social research. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, DOI: 10.1177/1354856515579839  | Pre-print (pdf).
This positional paper argues in favour of a research program for the exploration of experimental collaborations, a methodological approach whose epistemic engagement with the empirical work is experimental and whose relational mode is collaborative. Digital technologies have effected a process of redistribution of social science research by which non-experts and lay people are increasingly using and developing tools for the production of sociological knowledge. Under these circumstances we argue that such a redistribution of social science research is an opportunity to renew the epistemic practices of social scientists. With the proposal of experimental collaborations we invoke a twofold displacement for social research: From a merely observational to an experimental mode or research; and from individualistic or merely engaged conceptions of research to a collective exploration of problems yet unknown.

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