The Coming of Age of Hybrids: Notes on Ethnographic Praxis

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It has been nearly 15 years since Donna Haraway wrote in Simians, Cyborgs and Women that, “In so far as we know ourselves in both formal discourse and in daily practice we find ourselves to be cyborgs, hybrids, mosaics, chimeras.” While Haraway’s referent was not the community of practitioners, scholars and change agents assembled for the EPIC conference, her attention to the particular arrangements of material goods, human labor and social relations in processes and histories that have consequences for people’s lives resonates with the themes addressed in the workshops and with concerns that bring many of us to this conference. In this talk I will explore how ethnographic praxis is constituted in and through our focus on the here and now of everyday practice by which logical divisions and dualism such as material – social, virtual – real, local –global, spiritual – secular are unmasked. Recognizing both our hybrid subjects and our hybrid identities, I will suggest we turn the analytic lens on ourselves and acknowledge and celebrate our pragmatism, our lives on the margins, and our commitment to the ephemeral, situated orderliness of everyday practice.

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