Multimodal Aspirations and Futurist Orientations in Ethnography Today

Multimodality and futurism have been alive in anthropology for a very long time. Yet their convergence in recent years around the question of how to connect anthropological practice to a variety of social and environmental issues has created a lively experimental nexus. What seems particularly striking is the intensity of efforts, often collaborative, to explore the reciprocal capacities of multimodal and futurist orientations to research and communicative practices. These efforts are reshaping how ethnographic projects define, for example, the dwelling and participation so emblematic of ethnographic method.

Whether art is ethnography, or ethnography art is less relevant today than how this experimental nexus materializes in each and every project as a strategy of research design amid collaborative opportunities, and as it produces results that are both here and now, future oriented or relevant, whether it be the likely, the manifestly emergent, the hoped for, or the otherwise.

Our most recent Center for Ethnography workshop focused on collaboration in anthropology and related disciplines. This workshop builds on that one by exploring a set of collaborative projects today that explicitly and diversely illustrate the two dynamics shaping many of them: an urgent, futurist orientation and the desire to experimentally work together in media and registers beyond academic textuality to explore modifications of standard modes of storytelling, narrative, and dialogue.

  • Sherine Hamdy - Fiction as Ethnographic Product vs Ethnography as Fictional Method
  • Susan Ossman - Mobility Diversity and the Future City
  • Philip Grant - Tech Futures and Collaboration in the Plantationocene
  • James Adams, Tim Schütz, Kim Fortun, Mike Fortun - Infrastructuring Just Transitions
  • Craig Campbell - Greeting Cards for the Anthropocene
  • Cristiana Giordano and Greg Pierotti - Affect Theater: Ethnography and Theatrical Composition
  • Scott A. Lukas - Immersive Spaces and Embodied Frustrations: Configuration, Modulation, and Remaking in the Contexts of Multimodal, Critical, and Futurist Ethnographic-Corporate Projects
  • Emil A. Røyrvik - Plotting the future
  • Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer - Sister Cities of the Anthropocene
  • Marina Peterson & Jesse Weaver Shipley - Texture of Nothing
  • George Marcus - Third Spaces Inside Occasions of Academic Discussions
  • Robert Kett - Design in a Common World
  • Andrea Ballestero - Stacking: multimodal technologies and metaphorical restraint in the era of story-telling
  • Stuart Candy and Kelly Kornet Weber - Further Adventures in Ethnographic Experiential Futures

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