embodiment

The Climate Crisis as Learning Space

Figure 1. Photo showing totems such as figurines of a fly, a gecko, a petrified stone, a dish with a mermaid, and a tile with a centaur.
FLOOR BASTEN Independent Scholar MARC COENDERS Independent Scholar DOWNLOAD PDF It is becoming widely accepted that the climate crisis is a multiscale breakdown of interrelated ecological systems, caused by behavioural patterns that are unsustainable. As behaviours are largely informed by ideologies and as the latter are passed on by education, we submit that the climate crisis is also a crisis of learning. Our game invites participants to reflect on a variety of ways of human thinking and sensemaking, i.e. paradigms. Putting the so-called Western paradigm into perspective by presenting other ontologies and epistemologies, we challenge participants to rethink learning as situated against the backdrop of new insights into the nature of ‘situation’, an intra-emergent phenomenon in which humans and other-than-humans are agentically enmeshed (Barad, 2007). Context Societies worldwide are responsible for unsustainable lifestyles. When we trace how we got to this, we see a history in which antique Greeks’ speculations about...

Preservation through Innovation: New Works Inspired by Tradition

Zosha Warpeha playing the violin on stage at EPIC2022
ZOSHA WARPEHA Independent Artist In this Wildcard presentation at EPIC2022, violinist and composer Zosha Warpeha speaks about her artistic research in Norway, which involved an immersive study of Nordic traditional music and the development of a highly personal solo performance practice. This session illustrates a participatory model of ethnographic research through which the artist built an embodied knowledge of traditional music and laid the groundwork for artistic expansion. She speaks about aural transmission in traditional folk music, tacit knowledge attained through embodied practice, and reciprocal relationships between bodies in space. She also discusses the tension between two visions of preservation—one that captures a tradition in a single moment in time and one that allows the tradition to organically evolve alongside a community—and makes the case for the necessity of innovation as a method of preservation and resilience. This video includes a short musical performance that demonstrates the culmination of the...

Against Resiliency: An Ethnographic Manifesto

Lauren Rhodes and Jillian Powers speaking together on stage at EPIC2022
LAUREN MONSEIN RHODES Cisco JILLIAN POWERS JP Morgan Chase Using ethnography as an analytic tool to examine the concept of resiliency, we call for a shift in our practice and praxis. Research subjects and ethnographic practitioners are tired of working against and thriving despite. We are tired of being seen as resilient in a world that demands so much from us and only values our contributions if they align with dominant views and world systems. We are tired of being relied upon to provide answers and solutions to the issues presented in front of us. In this manifesto, we demonstrate and argue that resilience, as a category of human agency, shifts responsibility to the person being resilient and away from the systemic problems that created the need to be resilient in the first place. By reifying resilience in our research and our findings, we celebrate survival despite the psychic and somatic labor and toll on resilient actors. As practitioners, we are drained by being and witnessing resilience. As ethnographers who work, we...

Show Must Go On: How Can Ballet Help Us Strengthen Ethnographic Practice?

Photograph of a ballet dancer at the apex of a jump in a full split, with translucent white skirt and sleeves illuminated against the dark background of an empty theater.
ALMINA KARYA ODABASI Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam This PechaKucha is drawn from research conducted as an organizational ethnography at The Dutch National Ballet (DNB), a renowned professional organization in the culture and arts sector in the Netherlands. However, just like most research trajectories, mine was also full of hurdles that I needed to overcome, the biggest being Coronavirus and the disruptions it created. While constantly adapting myself and my research to the circumstances of the day, I agree with Marcus and Fischer’s description of ethnography being a “messy, qualitative experience” (1986, p.22). I have come to recognize how resilience is very much engraved in the ballet as a profession with opportunities to observe its manifestation even before (or during) adversities; and its learnings can be useful for other (cultural) settings and/or disciplines. In this PechaKucha, by proposing a new perspective to understand ethnographic practice, I suggest that what we learn from ballet can impact the resilience...

Beyond Zoom Fatigue: Ritual and Resilience in Remote Meetings

John Sherry speaking on stage at EPIC2022. Projected slide says "How is remote work affecting resilience?"
SUZANNE L. THOMAS1 Intel Corporation JOHN W. SHERRY Intel Corporation REBECCA CHIERICHETTI Intel Corporation SINEM ASLAN Intel Corporation LUMINIŢA-ANDA MANDACHE University of Salzburg, Austria COVID-19 has precipitated a massive social experiment – the sudden shift of millions of knowledge workers from their traditional offices to homes or other remote work locations. This has inspired heated debates and new ways of imagining the future of work. This paper hopes to contribute to a better understanding of these changes by reporting on the results of several dozen in-depth interviews with remote workers from a variety of geographies, industries and professions. We focus in particular on their experiences of remote meetings, with special attention to complaints workers have with their current implementation. As we learned, workers’ complaints tended to be driven by social – rather than productivity or technical – concerns. We explore this social dimension in depth, propose a framework for thinking about meetings...

Cultivating Resiliencies for All: The Necessity of Trauma Responsive Research Practices

Presentation slide: an arial view of a meandering river. Overlain text: "A Trauma Responsive Development Model. 1. Aware. 2. Sensitive. 3. Informed. 4. Responsive"
MATTHEW BERNIUS Code for America RACHAEL DIETKUS Social Workers Who Design This paper is an exploration of trauma, how and why it can surface during ethnographic and qualitative research, and the importance of anticipating its potential presence. We present a model to help plan for and mitigate the risks of trauma and demonstrate how it fits into broader methodological discussions of conducting safer and more ethical, responsible, and humane research. We close by discussing one pathway for a journey from being sensitive and aware of trauma to actively responding to it at both the individual and organizational levels across your work. Keywords: Trauma informed care, trauma responsive research and design, design research, ethics, qualitative methods Article citation: 2022 EPIC Proceedings pp 9–34, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...

Hands Are People Too: Reflections on the Value of Hands (and How to Study Them)

MARIA CURY ReD Associates KAHYUN SOPHIE KIM Facebook Reality Labs PechaKucha Presentation—Did you know that hands have bodies, relationships, and minds of their own? In the coming years as a new wave of technologies focused on our hands is under development, and as AR/VR may include haptics as a key mode of interaction, we need to design for hands as we would for people – keeping the technology in the background to ensure hands can learn, collaborate, and shine. We conducted a study in 2020 about what gives hands unique value to people. The ambition was to understand hand-based skills across contexts and domains of practical expertise. We asked practitioners to record themselves using their hands, analyzed the video footage, and watched the recordings together with each practitioner. We asked practitioners to reflect on their hands and compare how their skills might apply to other contexts. Through this process, we uncovered that the hands have bodies, relationships, and minds of their own. These fundamental observations...

Ethnography for Sensemaking in Times of Trauma

Photo from book cover 0f "Dealing in Desire"
a book review by SHARON BAUTISTA, Mozilla Dealing in Desire: Asian Ascendancy, Western Decline, and the Hidden Currencies of Global Sex Work Kimberly Kay Hoang 2015, 248pp, University of California Press The Labor of Care: Filipina Migrants and Transnational Families in the Digital Age Valerie Francisco-Menchavez 2018, 256pp, University of Illinois Press The March 16 shootings in the Atlanta-area of Georgia in the southern United States, when a person shot dead eight people, including six Asian women, sent me into deep grief. I could barely register the text messages from concerned friends recognizing me as an Asian woman and offering support. Trying to muster the focus to work the next day, I felt the urge to mute the Slack streams of sincere acknowledgements and thoughtful compilations of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) resources shared by co-workers. Alongside my grief, I was frustrated by the meager news coverage of the people—and specifically the Asian women—who were murdered. There seemed almost...

The Power of Not Thinking

book cover, "The Power of Not Thinking"
a book review by GERALD LOMBARDI The Power of Not Thinking: How Our Bodies Learn and Why We Should Trust Them Simon Roberts 2020, 336 pp, Blink Publishing/Bonnier In The Power of Not Thinking: How Our Bodies Learn and Why We Should Trust Them, Simon Roberts aims to resuscitate the human body from the sepulchre of Western thought, where Descartes and his successors presumably buried it, and to correct popular misconceptions about how we generate knowledge. In the author's words: "Our intelligence does not just arise from our brains... nor can it be programmed as a set of rules or propositions that enables us to think in particular ways or perform particular actions. Instead, our understanding of the world arises from our bodies’ interactions with and perceptions of the world – and it is through these interactions that our bodies acquire knowledge." (p. 6) This proposition will be taken for granted by some readers of this review, and by anyone who follows its intellectual touchpoints: embodied cognition, situated learning,...

Agency & Tech Colonialism: Extending the Conversation

“What can those of us who work in, and maybe even love, computing cultures do about computing’s colonial expansions?” Sareeta Amrute’s keynote address “Tech Colonialism Today” opened EPIC2019 in a provocative, mobilizing spirit that inspired discussions on stage, in breakout sessions, and around breakfast tables. Sareeta journeyed across time and territory to explore what characteristics make something colonial to begin with, such as extractive and hierarchical systems. As you might guess, she argued that yes, the tech industry today has core colonial attributes. But goal wasn’t just critique; Sareeta showcased counterconduct—the agency that people, communities, and companies have to build alternatives. If colonial legacies and socioeconomic systems seem a bit “out of scope” as context for standard product or user research projects, check out Sareeta’s award-winning book Encoding Race, Encoding Class. You’ll learn about Meena’s daily tea ritual, hear Bipin describe why he sometimes chooses to write bad code,...

Distant Cousins? Minds, Bodies and Machines

EPIC2019 Keynote Address, Providence, Rhode Island SIMON ROBERTS, Co-founder, Stripe Partners It was several centuries ago that the body was spirited out of conversations about intelligence. The mind-body dualism continues to exert strong influence on the world today—in fields as diverse as education, marketing, politics and technology. The Enlightenment, the industrial revolution and now AI and automation have all, in their own ways, sanctified the mind and downgraded the body. Yet a host of disciplines from beyond anthropology and philosophy, such as neuroscience and cognitive science, are now concurring with the idea that the body is more than just the locus of our experience of the world. As the idea of embodied cognition holds, the body is the source of, and a condition for, our intelligence. Indeed, the recent rapid advances in AI and robotics have been made in large part due to this turn towards the idea of the embodied mind. The body is at the heart of human capabilities like pattern recognition, adaptability,...

Indian Classical Dance: The Foundational Element in My Practice of Ethnography

VYJAYANTHI VADREVU Rasa.nyc PechaKucha Presentation Do we really understand how we became practitioners of ethnography? In this talk, I go through a re-discovery of the links between my lifelong training in Indian classical dance and the elements this has instilled in my current practice of ethnography. In dance, we are trained to keenly observe every physical and emotional nuance of an item. Furthermore, we are taught symbolism and theory to deepen our interpretation of dance. This dance foundation has shaped my connection to every aspect of ethnography: from practice to analysis to presentation. Vyjayanthi Vadrevu is the founding ethnographer/strategist of Rasa.nyc. She leads research on projects ranging from social impact design to corporate technology innovation. Vyjayanthi is a trained Bharatantyam and Odissi dancer and uses movement and choreography to connect to the deepest parts of the human experience. vyjayanthi@rasa.nyc 2017 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918, epicpeople.org/intelligences  ...

Using Your Feet: Subverting the Structure of Meetings to Help Teams Go Further Faster

TOM ROWLEY Stripe Partners PechaKucha Presentation—Meetings are a central part of how we work as commercial ethnographers. We meet with our clients to plan our projects and share our findings. We meet with our informants to explore and understand their worlds. However the cultures and practices that inform meeting behaviour can be antithetical to our goals as researchers through their reinforcement of pre-set patterns of thinking and being. In this presentation I explore how we can challenge the affordances imposed by meeting culture. I draw on my experiences founding a global volunteer network and reframing meeting contexts for corporate clients to challenge conventions and identify fresh opportunities for ethnographic praxis. Tom Rowley is a partner at Stripe Partners, a global strategy and innovation consultancy based in London. He co-founded www.goodfornothing.com a global volunteer network that brings together designers, developers, strategists and researchers to volunteer their skills for positive social causes. 2017...

In Defense of Personal Bias in Ethnographic Research

by ANNA ZAVYALOVA, Stripe Partners Past midnight, I’m shivering outside a pub in Shoreditch, the rain beginning to drizzle ever so viciously. It has been fifteen minutes since I left my friends and ordered an UberPool home. As I watch yet another cab drive by, I think about the millions of factors that make one choose how to get around a city. I think about comfort, cost and convenience, space, speed and safety. Earlier this year I was involved in a study of pooled mobility in the UK, India and Brazil, where we tried to make sense of car sharing ‘grammar’ across these dramatically different cultural landscapes. The project, which came to an end in March, and the subsequent paper I wrote for EPIC a few months later, should feel like a closed chapter. Yet as I traverse cities, home and abroad, during the day and late at night, I never stop noting, observing, collecting data – often without realising I’m doing it. Even after a night out, I am still an ethnographer, fascinated by how people and vehicles, cultural values...

The Virtues of the Visceral

Soldiers check papers and take valuables at the checkpoint at A Day in the Life of a Refugee.
by SIMON ROBERTS, Stripe Partners The news on BBC Radio this morning: The Syrian crisis enters its seventh year with 400,000 dead and little hope that this complex catastrophe will be untangled any time soon. The scale of suffering is huge, but Syria accounts for just a fraction of an even more staggering number – the UNHCR estimates there are 65 million refugees or internally displaced people worldwide. Like many others I watch the steady stream of grisly news from Syria – it comes to us in facts, figures, infographics, human stories and historical comparisons. I've been shocked. But I am also inoculated. Whatever the quality of the reporting, however harrowing the scenes, our attention moves on. It is difficult to truly grasp the scale of what we have seen, hard to understand what it must be like to be a refugee. In an age when a seemingly limitless amount of information is at our fingertips, when we can know more than ever about events around the world, we still fail to understand. Here’s the challenge of contemporary...