Multimodal Ethnography Network
Melissa Nolas, Goldsmiths, s.nolas(at)gold.ac.uk
Christos Varvantakis, Flensburg, cvarvantakis(at)gmail.com
The network originates in discussions and exchanges in and around the journal entanglements, that the founding convenors (Nolas and Varvantakis) co-edit, as well as the founding co-convenors in experiences in running educational workshops on multimodal ethnographic research on a previous project. In these contexts, the need for the establishment of a network among researchers who engage with multimodal ethnography has emerged. In response to these discussions, Melissa Nolas and Christos Varvantakis co-converned a panel at the EASA conference in Lisboa in 2020 (P039, ‘Languages of entanglement: mapping the ethnographic modes and media’). The panel brought together an international and interdisciplinary network of anthropologists engaged in the field of multimodal ethnography to address issues related to the selection, curation, production, review, dissemination and consumption of audio-visual and other compositions. The panel provided the opportunity to discuss the possibility of an application for a more permanent 'multimodal ethnography' EASA network, and in the course of the day-long panel presenters and participants expressed their interest and support in establishing such a network. Following on from the panel, Melissa and Christos circulated a call for further expressions of interest and support in the panel on social media and mailing lists. The call generated an enthusiastic response, with over 200 signatories. An application was submitted in November 2020 and was accepted in February 2021.
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Network focus and aims
The EASA Multimodal Ethnography Network invites the experimentation with and in circuits of multimodal ethnographic practice. With strong roots in anthropological theory and practice, the network branches out globally with the aim of fostering creative, critical, and pluridisciplinary dialogues and productions between researchers internationally in anthropology, on its fringes, and beyond.
The network embraces an understanding of multimodality and multimedia that is simultaneously old/new, analogue/digital, low tech/high tech, in person/at a distance. The network aims to create spaces for playful experimentation with these dichotomies and tensions during plenaries at the bi-annual EASA conference, annual meetings and member-organised events, and through publications in the associated journal entanglements: experiments in multimodal ethnography.
Recent years have seen a burgeoning interest in multimodal research in anthropology. As a visual, aural, inventive, artistic, and experimental practice that takes place within and beyond the academy, multimodal ethnography calls for a new scholarship and pedagogical languages and practices to support its flourishing. Multimodality in anthropology and ethnographic practice has a long and diverse history, yet it is currently undergoing something of a ‘coming of age’ and the network will aim to explore and push the boundaries of this liminal space and its tropes.
The network provides a space for the growing international and interdisciplinary network of multimodal ethnographers, EASA members and non-members, to address issues pertinent to the nurturing of this rapidly expanding circuit of practice including but not limited to the role of the following in multimedia and multimodal anthropological compositions: the role of production, curation and re-presentation; the appreciation, re-view and feedback of audio-visual compositions; the sites of knowledge and power; the collaborative, transformative, and unfolding temporalities of pre- and post-production; the live event and its afterlife; the role of audiences, publics, and other collectivities.
This network is being established at a time when debates within anthropology, as well as across the interpretative social sciences, urge us towards a network that, while based in the European Association of Social Anthropologist, is open to and fosters a globality for a multimodal theory and practice that is sensitive and resonates with 21st century social changes. As a network we are especially keen to support early career researchers and anthropologists working outside of academia in recognition that anthropological knowledge and multimodal practice reside across career stages as well as being produced beyond the academy.
The network is set up and steered by the founding convenors (Nolas and Varvantakis) who will remain convenors for the first two years, after which an election will be held amongst members to establish a team of four convenors (which may include the original convenors should they be re-elected but their term as convenors will not exceed the four years stipulated by the network guidelines).