Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Who Deserves to Be Observed?: Wrestling with the Avant-Garde


Cite this article:

2021 EPIC Proceedings p 336, ISSN 1559-8918,

PechaKucha Presentation—What happens when the “mildly militaristic jargon of marketing” (2004, Sunderland, Taylor, Denny) seeps into the dialectic process of structuring applied research and blurs the meaning of its stakes? This provokingly titled PechaKucha stems from our experience of recruitment conundrums, ones in which notions of “avant-garde” were used in framing, shaping, or reorienting our approach towards the people we were supposed to observe, analyze and report on.

We resurface from these case studies and attempt to scratch the glossy coat that blankets these notions as we approach the range of theories that try to define who’s “deserving” of observation. We point at their implications, revealing the power dynamics that they inevitably create, within and outside the field. Inspired by Escobar’s call for non-modern solutions to the stakes of the modern world (2017, Escobar) we reflect on how to make our epistemological choices count in the future shaping processes we find ourselves involved with.

Letizia Nardi is an anthropologist and practices at InProcess, an innovation agency based in Paris. Letizia enjoys multi-disciplinary research settings and working across industry sectors, with a special preference for BtoB projects and the convergence of design and anthropology.

Lola Billaud is an anthropologist and practices at InProcess, an innovation agency based in Paris, France. Lola is interested in the anthropology of the body and explores visual media as a way to analyse and bear witness of the present.