The Ethno Lab Launch

—Last Friday, October 1st, marked the hybrid in-person/online launch of the Ethnography Lab for the 2021/22 school year, at their headquarters at the Milieux Institute and on Zoom.

The event invitation began with a call to action, and a spirit of hope: “Now that Concordia is back in-person we will be trying to reboot an Ethnography Lab as a mixed virtual/in-person space. We will go back to our room at Milieux Institute and keep the conversation going on our fantastic Discord channel. After a year and a half in the midst of a global pandemic, our mission seems more crucial than ever.” At the open house, current projects (both longterm and newer) of the Lab were introduced and discussed, such as Montreal Waterways (which was looking for new members), Wordfactory (a hybrid writing group), and GamePlace Space (to discuss what gamers are up to).

The event had an excellent turnout, with over 30 people present in person, and around 15 on the Zoom platform. Attendees included faculty members, students from the Sociology and Anthropology department and other disciplines, and all were energized and ready to map out, discuss, and bring to fruition exciting new and ongoing projects. The hybrid quality of the event was an experiment in and of itself, and of finding ways to best adapt technology so that all participating members would feel connected and involved. This was not only descriptive for the event, but represented a challenge that the Lab was ready to face for the coming year. After some tinkering, they found ways to make sure everyone was included in the discussions.

Ariana Seferiades said of the event: “For many, this was an instance of (re)encounter after long period of exclusive virtual communications. There was an atmosphere of excitement, of being there in the presence of others. Some of us saw each other for the first time in over a year.” After what was remarked as a Zoom-induced group silence for the in-person meeting (after many months of being on mute), the conversation became lively and animated. “There was a great atmosphere!”

Melina Campos Ortiz (the Lab Coordinator), said, “One of the most important things was to listen to other people and open up the space for them to propose ideas. Best Concordia offered a podcast workshop that captivated the audience’s interest. Members of the Decolonial Hub presented the idea for a reading group on Frantz Fanon. Other attendants mentioned ideas as diverse as a reading group on maternity and a workshop on data activism. We also offered the lab space for workshops of all sorts.”

We are so excited to see what the Ethnography Lab will get up to this year! Read more about the Lab and upcoming projects on their blog!

The Concordia Ethnography Lab was established in 2016 to promote and explore innovative ethnographic research. The Lab gathers ethnographic expertise from across Concordia to foster creative thinking about methodology, to enhance the possibility of research collaboration, and to act as a resource for researchers inside and outside the university who wish to use ethnography to ask questions about the world around them.

Located at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology, the Lab is ideally placed for creating interdisciplinary collaboration. Our members include anthropologists, sociologists, artists, engineers, film-makers, designers, geographers and political scientists. We share a loft-like space with other labs in the Speculative Life research cluster where we hold our meetings, workshops, and other events related to ongoing research activities.

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