An Ethnographic Inventory

Ethnographic experimentation

Ethnographies of recent decades devoted to the study of new media, technoscience and global organisations (among many others) have forced many anthropologists to reconsider the form and norm of their ethnographic fieldwork. We know that fieldwork is not what it used to be, anthropologists explore novel forms of collaboration, resort to different senses, and engage in all kind of experiments in their fieldwork.

Evoking here ‘experimentation’ or ‘the experimental’ is not an act of rupture with method or tradition, but rather an attempt at renewing the descriptive vocabulary and the conceptual language used to account for the anthropological modes of engagement in the field. It does indeed a common practice, an ethnographic modality that despite its presence in the historical record of anthropology has rarely been noted and recounted in our tales of the field.

The ethnographic experimentation proposed here is a form of engagement that entails field interventions through material and spatial arrangements that enable the articulation of inventive ways of working together. A distinctive ethnographic modality for the production of anthropological knowledge, one that bear witness to an emerging sensibility that takes shape in those field encounters in which anthropologists devise the conditions to problematize the world with their counterparts.

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