Humor is no mere “sense;” it is a social and cultural practice that enables each one of us to construct and recognize novel meanings and connections within our lives and worlds. The idea that humor relies on incongruity that defies our expectations has been around for millennia, but the mid-20th century work of Arthur Koestler elevated humor to be creatively on par with other artistic and intellectual feats. In this PechaKucha, I link my personal fascination/obsession with humor to Koestler’s concept of ‘bisociation’ – the connection of two seemingly unrelated or incommensurate frames of reference – to tell the story of how I became the ethnographer I am today. Beginning with my discovery of the work of George Carlin and moving through a life of evolving engagement with humor – academically, at work, and on stage – I have developed the belief that what we laugh at can help us arrive at novel ideas and make our thought (and therefore action) nimble and resilient in the face of...
University of Amsterdam
Cultivating resilience while navigating uncertainty is crucial for refugees. In the Netherlands, after receiving asylum and the right to work, refugees are often urged to adapt or evolve in hopes of successfully integrating into the Dutch economy. How do forced migrants who pursue work in creative enterprises help us rethink the relationship between forging new lives and uncertain futures? In this paper, resiliency of refugees is presented as a process of creative performance and experimentation. Efforts taken by refugees to explore, or ‘self-potentialize’, new future creative pathways suggest that resilience is overly simplified when defined as a pursuit of resistance to integrate and conform into established creative industries. The stories of two refugees living in Amsterdam showcase how resiliency is future-oriented, processual (Pink & Seale 2017), and connected to the preservation of one’s ‘capacity to aspire’ (Appadurai 2013). ‘Future-making’ is embedded into their...
This PK explores the relationship between ethnography and post-modern storytelling techniques that shift the locus of agency towards the audience and away from the protagonist. The presentation builds on insights from a project about the future of storytelling, and explores the ways in which various storytelling formats (theater, film, comics) promote creative agency through immersion and interaction. The PK shows how through a deep engagement with the lives of the people we study, and our ability and willingness to take clients along with us, we as business ethnographers assume a sense of ‘creative’ agency, which allows us and our clients to take greater ownership of the story we tell.
Anna Zavyalova is an anthropologist, socio-cultural explorer and a keen writer, passionate about applying the ethnographic method to real business challenges. With over five years’ experience in academic and commercial research, she has carried out global ethnographic studies spanning technology,...
Stripe PartnersDownload PDF
PechaKucha—This presentation reflects on the cognitive impacts of running. It is a personal reflection on the desire (and need) I have to run. Running is an activity that has both banal and transcendental aspects. It’s physical, time consuming and sometimes verges on boring, but it also has impacts on conscious and unconscious thought. Multiple authors have explored the experience of running but I suggest that running allows me to think in more unconstrained ways than I can on other occasions. The cognitive affordances of running are, at least for me, creative stimulus. Its physicality is a refreshing break from the mental work of ethnographic analysis.
Simon Roberts is former co-organizer of EPIC and partner at Stripe Partners, a global strategy and innovation studio based in London. He has a PhD in anthropology and has formerly worked at Ideas Bazaar, Intel and ReD Associates.
2016 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, p. 545, ISSN 1559-8918,
EPIC Profiles Series
by TAMARA HALE, Effective UI
EPIC2016 Keynote Speaker Eric Weiner is a veteran foreign correspondent and New York Times best selling author.
In an interconnected, technology-driven world, does culture still matter? Can there really be “best practices” to be drawn from the vast range of human experiences? These are some of the questions driving Eric Weiner’s influential writing and thinking.
I spoke with Eric about his career trajectory and the inspiration he has drawn from the discipline of anthropology. His award-winning journalism and critically acclaimed books, The Geography of Bliss, Man Seeks God and The Geography of Genius all use cross-cultural and historical comparison as a strategy to make key concepts intriguing for the general public. After writing his first two books, explains Eric, “I realized that I’ve really been engaging in amateur cultural anthropology.... I believe that culture matters more than we think.”
Eric’s interest in culture, his deep appreciation for cultural differences...