Lecture image placeholder

Premium content

Access to this content requires a subscription. You must be a premium user to view this content.

Monthly subscription - $9.99Pay per view - $4.99Access through your institutionLogin with Underline account
Need help?
Contact us
Lecture placeholder background
VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/zgss-t426


AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Ethnographers as Collaborators: Tensions Producing Knowledge in the Field


local knowledge



Given that ethnographers are immersed in the life and work of their interlocutors through prolonged participant-observation, ethnographic research inherently involves collaboration. As such, relationships between ethnographers and their interlocutors are more enmeshed, dialogic, and ambivalent than modes of “data collection” in other research paradigms, which may involve the presumption of a unidirectional relationship between the researcher and their object of study. This collaborative nature of ethnographic research may be more conspicuous, as well as epistemologically and ethically complicated, when the activities in which ethnographers are collaborating involve the work of knowledge production. This roundtable discussion examines the tensions, challenges, and possibilities of epistemological modes of ethnographic participation, in which ethnographers collaborate with interlocutors in knowledge-producing activities beyond the ethnographic project itself. This may include practice-oriented research, clinical research, social movement activism, and political and ideological labor. Gathering graduate students engaged in collaborative ethnographic research across various field sites, this roundtable seeks to pose and address a number of interrelated questions: How, and with what social effects, are ethnographers engaged in collaborative research interpellated or construed as researchers? What are the ethics of navigating and communicating the bounds (or boundlessness) of ethnography? When ethnography is one of many knowledge-producing practices occurring at a particular site, how might the ethnographer negotiate their positionality in relation to other participants, especially when those projects follow different epistemological traditions and serve divergent goals? To what extent are ethnographers implicated in the epistemological, methodological, political, and social tensions we are examining, and how do we navigate these multiple, and sometimes incompatible, accountabilities and commitments? What are the ethnographer’s obligations -- personal, professional, and ethical -- to their interlocutors and host organizations? When “research collaboration” beyond the ethnographic project is expected, how does the ethnographer navigate the ethical and pragmatic considerations of producing knowledge with and about their interlocutors? Finally, how have the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for virtual ethnographic practice further complicated questions of collaboration and positionality? Presenters of this roundtable will reflect on their experiences conducting ethnographic research in settings involving multiple knowledge-producing projects. Our various field sites and objects of study include: a social service nonprofit strategically engaging in research, evaluation, policy advocacy, and LGBTQ social movement work in Detroit (Berringer), a social work organization in mainland China conducting “practice research” (Chen), a research team engaged in a clinical trial to prevent opioid overdose among individuals exiting jails in the Midwestern U.S. (Claypool), a collaborative virtual ethnography of media and advertising in Cuba (García), hospital-based clinical team science in the United States (Jackson Levin), a powerlifting gym in the American South where embodied collaboration contributes to contemporary fascist ideological formation (Mulvey), and a coalition of various professionals, organizations, and government actors convened to avert a census undercount in Chicago (Norwood). The chair of our roundtable, Elizabeth F.S. Roberts, has been engaged in a long-term multidisciplinary collaboration with engineers and environmental health scientists in the United States and Mexico, towards the development of a new method of ethnographic collaboration: bioethnography.


Transcript English (automatic)

Next from AAA Annual Meeting 2021

Ecologies of Prediction
technical paper

Ecologies of Prediction

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

18 November 2021

Similar lecture

Critical Research Spaces: Lab, Studios, Centers and the production dynamic anthropologies

Critical Research Spaces: Lab, Studios, Centers and the production dynamic anthropologies

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

18 November 2021

Stay up to date with the latest Underline news!

Select topic of interest (you can select more than one)


  • All Lectures
  • For Librarians
  • Resource Center
  • Free Trial
Underline Science, Inc.
1216 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001, USA

© 2023 Underline - All rights reserved