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.

Inventions in this bundle

The method of telegrammatic correspondence: A digital mode of inquiry for times of lockdown

Infraestructuras etnográficas

Glossary terms in this bundle

Experimental collaborations

Experimental collaboration is an ethnographic mode of collaboration (there are others ‘modes of collaboration’) that entails field interventions through material...


Experimentation is a figure invoked in many domains, it is not though so common in anthropology. In the xcol language...

Modes of collaboration

The idiom of collaboration has pervaded anthropology and many other social domains in recent years, capturing the imagination of a...


Intravention refers to interventions inside our own disciplines occurring in collaboration and complicity with our ethnographic counterparts and epistemic partners....

Field devices

Field devices are the situated and relational expressions of ethnographic modes of inquiry. A field device may have the form...

Xpositions in this bundle

Ethnographic experimentation: Other tales of the field

Ethnographic experimentation refers to an ethnographic modality where anthropologists venture into the collaborative production of venues for knowledge creation that turn the field into a site for the construction of joint anthropological problematizations. Invoking the trope of ethnographic experimentation we aim at describing how anthropologists creatively venture into the production of venues of knowledge creation through processes of material and social interventions that turn the field into a site for epistemic collaboration: a site for the construction of joint anthropological problematizations.

Note-taking: A ‘fieldwork device’ duplex

A re-description of my two-fold engagement as ethnographer-cum-documenter in the activist design collective En torno a la silla. Highlighting the importance of note-taking as a ‘fieldwork device’ for the problematizing and relating in the field.

‘Devicing’ fieldwork

We would like to intimate a mode of collaboration that is neither a constitutive condition of fieldwork nor a deliberate strategy informed by political and ethical commitments: Collaboration as an epistemic figure that describes how anthropologists creatively venture into the production of venues of knowledge creation in partnership with their counterparts in the field. In these situations, the ethnographic method is re-equipped with new infrastructures, spaces of knowledge production, relationship forms and modes of representation.