This summer school is divided into two parts. The first part will take place online as a preparatory meeting on Friday 14 July 2023. The second will be held at Palacky University Olomouc 31 July – 4 August 2023. It connects introductions to Open Source Research, remote sensing, interviewing, oral history, source criticism and decolonial theory.
This summer school is intended to provide students and junior researchers with a basic toolkit in remote ethnography. It aims to enable a type of research in places of limited accessibility that can provide many of the same holistic, in-depth and detailed insights that classical ethnography does. Many of the teachers invited will be specialised in Xinjiang, China or Central Asia. Therefore, many texts and examples will concern this part of the world. Still, participation is not limited to students or researchers interested in these geographical locations and aims to provide a methodological toolkit that can be employed globally.
As an increasing number of areas in the world are becoming inaccessible or ethically untenable to do on-the-ground fieldwork, anthropologists and other researchers interested in these regions turn to remote methods. Online data and data gathering are at the center of this necessary refocus. Yet, many other types of data and material can be as important in coming to terms with realities on grounds inaccessible. This summer school presents some of these and methods of accessing them. Also, recent trends in remote research focus on isolated analyses of a disparate set of data, while the approach taught in this summer school encourages researchers to combine and triangulate these data types with each other, to let the data talk to each other. The idea of remote ethnography is that ethnography is a holistic endeavour that entails a degree of immersion and acquisition of general cultural knowledge and competencies. This means creating an analytically and methodologically sound conversation between government tenders, diaspora interviews, witness accounts, satellite images, leaked speeches, popular culture productions, propaganda and lists of detained people while embedding all of this in the long-term cultural knowledge of the region and its history, political economy, narratives, logics and languages.
The summer school draws on previous remote research traditions, such as those established during WW2 and the Cold War, for inspiration and to craft an epistemological framework for analysing very different data. At the same time, it seeks to critically reflect on the role of the researcher and her potential contribution to colonial-type knowledge production. Critically debating the dangers of abuse for counter-insurgency and exploitation of the weak that our research may help open up are crucial parts of a developing ethics code which the workshop seeks to introduce and discuss.
The summer school is divided into two parts. The first part will take place online as a preparatory meeting on Friday 14 July 2023. The second will be held at Palacky University Olomouc 31 July – 4 August 2023.
The online part will be a full day preparatory meeting including three two-hour sessions. The first session consists of a short round of introductions and short introductions into Remote Ethnography as a concept, the summer school and the methods taught in it. the second session entails somewhat more elaborate informal presentations of each participant’s work, material and interest going forward as well as some of the Remote Ethnographic work already being done or in planning by some of the convenors. The third session is devoted to preparatory readings for the workshop. The students receive a list and a number of PdF texts to prepare for the in-person summer school two weeks later.
The in-person part will cover five days. Each day has a dedicated focus-topic and one person from the organising team in charge. At the end of the summer school each student leaves with the design of a small remote ethnography related research study that they will pursue in the following two months.
The in-person part is divided into the following topics with (persons in charge; and suggested invited speakers) added in parentheses.
0) Introduction and overview, history of remote research and sources to draw from (Rune Steenberg; Robbie Barnett, …)
1) Online ethnography, discourse analysis, video analysis… (David O’Brien; Hanna Burdorf, Gene Bunin, Hacer Gonul, Vanessa Frangville, …)
2) Interview techniques and oral history (Muqeddes Mijit; Rian Thum, …)
3) Remote sensing for dummies – satellite imagery, Google Map/Google Earth/Open Street Map, etc. (Martin Lavicka; Robbie Barnett, Björn Alpermann, Nathan Ruser, …)
4) Source criticism, fact checking, triangulation & decolonial theory (Vanessa Frangville; Philipp Lottholz, Deniz Yonucu, Madina Tlostanova…)
5) Bringing it all together in an holistic Remote Ethnography – and your own data and research (Rune Steenberg; …)
Topics 0) and 5) will not cover full days, nor probably will 3) and 4). 1) may span over more than one day.
The in-person part will be held hybrid with online participants allowed to join via BBB.
Interested? Please contact Martin Lavicka (firstname.lastname@example.org) by the end of May.
For those who present full lectures at the workshop, we plan to record them and to put them up online as Youtube and Podcast episodes.