An Ethnographic Inventory

Tomás Criado

Tomás Criado is Senior Researcher at the Chair of Urban Anthropology and Director of the Stadtlabor of Multimodal Anthropology of the Department of European Ethnology, Humboldt-University of Berlin.

Working at the crossroads of Anthropology and STS, he has developed a particular concern around how bodily diversity – paying special attention to disabled and older people – comes to matter in the knowledge, material and care politics of participatory city-making.

He is currently working on a book project on these topics, drawing from ethnographic and archival materials from the city of Barcelona – notably from his work as a member of the En torno a la silla collective  and undertaking research on the Municipal Institute of People with Disabilities–  as well as his experiments in architectural design studio projects in Germany, tentatively titled An Uncommon City: Bodily Diversity and the Activation of Possible Urbanisms.

In his work he has also been experimenting with different forms of public engagement, ethnography and pedagogy.

He has recently co-edited Experimental Collaborations: Ethnography through Fieldwork Devices (Berghahn, 2018, with Adolfo Estalella) and Re-learning design. Pedagogic experiments with STS in design studio courses (DISEÑA, 2018, with Ignacio Farías).

For more information, please check: www.tscriado.org · @tscriado

Inventions by Tomás Criado

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

Workshop à la carte: Academic Expansion (2019)

Workshop à la carte: Original (2017)

Games ‘Open Form neu Denken’

CLEENIK – Clinic of anthropological ethnographic experiments

Glossary terms added by Tomás Criado

Care review

A modality of ‘peer review’ undertaken with care searching to be as inclusive as possible, leaving no one behind: that...


In the language of this platform prototypes are open-ended material experiments in anthropological practice at the hinges of the ethnographic,...

Open formats

The term open formats refers to the experimentation with meeting formats as pedagogical spaces for the apprenticeship of ethnographic experimentation....


Those interested in documenting and caring for ethnographic invention, filling up xcol inventory with content (inventions, xpositions, inquiries and terms...


Gatherings and more or less thematic workshops organised by xcolars where ethnographic invention is celebrated and taken care of by...

Xpositions by Tomás Criado

Staging complexity

In contrast with more conventional approaches to the uses of theatre for the public engagement with science and technology (e.g. pedagogical approaches to science communication), contemporary forms of participatory, community, interactive or digital theatre have also served as relevant arenas for projects searching to activate publics through agonistic and complex encounters with contemporary technoscientific issues. This was the case of Enacting Innovation, a performance that crystallises a dialogue between social scientists and theatre professionals working in the vicinity of STS in which that seek to 'stage complexity' and the paradoxes of otherwise repetitive innovation scripts.

xcol, un inventario de la invención etnográfica

La etnografía es un acto de invención. Los antropólogos (y las antropólogas también) inventan siempre la manera de investigar con otras. La creatividad e inventiva que es integral a la actividad empírica de la antropología (y de manera amplia de la etnográfica), ha sido raramente reconocida por esta disciplina. Inventiva y creatividad parecen estar prescritas, muy al contrario de lo que ocurre en el mundo del arte, donde la creatividad es una de sus señas de identidad. Este encuentro online es la presentación / lanzamiento de ‘xcol. An ethnographic inventory’ en el Laboratorio de Antropología Audiovisual Experimental del MUSAC: tras una introducción del argumento teórico sobre la inventiva etnográfica se presenta una navegación guiada por el inventario xcol.

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.

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.

‘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.

The ethnographic invention

Ethnography is an act of invention. Anthropological inquiries always demand to invent how to inquire and how to relate to others, this is the central argument upon which xcol-Inventory has been built. But if invention has always been integral to the empirical practice of ethnography, the imperative to care for our knowledge practices should also involve to care for the inventiveness of our modes of inquiry.

The Lab is not Blah: Academic encounters, venues to re-train ourselves

Meetings are, together with papers and books, perhaps the quintessential mechanism for the circulation of academic knowledge. And yet, despite their relevance, we usually resort to the most conventional formats: paper presentations, round tables, etc. Nevertheless, anthropology has recently recognised the need to explore other ways of sharing our knowledge and thinking together. We strongly believe that formats to share and think together should be considered as part and parcel of a discussion on ethnographic experimentation. We argue for the need to document these ‘experiments in meeting’ so that they may travel, be learnt and reproduced elsewhere.