We try to avoid being on camera, but as researchers, are we ever really out of frame? Centered around a life-changing project that had lackluster results, this piece is a meditation on our agency, or lack of agency, as researchers. Our work gives us unique glimpses into worlds no one else is privy to, and what we experience changes us. At times, the most powerful advancement of our work is in our own lives.
Brandy Parker is a Senior Research & Design Strategist at IA Collaborative. With a background in ethnography, psychology, and nutrition, she brings a unique whole-person perspective to both medicine and the design world. She works at the intersection of her passions for human-centered design, research, and health care.
Citation: 2019 EPIC Proceedings, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...
Applied ethnography still struggles with the fundamental challenges of (1) framing research to obtain ‘thick’ data, (2) making sense of data in teams and with clients, and (3) making a convincing case with data in challenging environments. We have observed that borrowing from literary genres can be effective in addressing these challenges. We therefore argue that in an age of data science, it is just as important to draw from the literary arts when gathering, analyzing, and elevating evidence to inspire change in applied ethnographic work. We raise three specific applications of literary genres to distinct project phases, to improve how data is collected and analyzed, and how data travels. In this paper we show: (1) how the screenplay can help solve challenges in research framing, to obtain thicker data; (2) how the novel can help solve challenges in analysis, to turn data into meaningful evidence; (3) how poetry can help solve challenges in the opportunities-development...
Pacific AIDS Network
This paper discusses the benefits and challenges of participatory photography as ethnographic evidence and how as researchers we can “read” the evidence our participants create. Drawing on examples from an ethnographic study examining concepts and constructions of community on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, I examine how we can interrogate photographs as data rather than factual evidence. Adages such as “the camera doesn’t lie” support the view of photography as a purveyor of truth. Photos accompanying journalistic dispatches from far-flung outposts around the world are seen as authentic evidence of real-world situations. Amateur videos of people’s life experiences are filmed on smart phones and then posted to YouTube to be taken as authentic representations of life events. Early ethnographic uses celebrated photography as the ultimate tool for showing that anthropologists had actually “been there,” displaying the exoticism of other cultures in factual black and white....