#Colleex is a network that aims to open a space for debate and intervention around experimental forms of ethnographic fieldwork. Amid profound debates in recent years on the nature and conventions of ethnography, #Colleex seeks to explore novel forms of knowledge production for anthropology. The network is organized as a collaboratory whose main agenda is to foster practical explorations alongside theoretical debates on what we call ethnographic experimentation.
Fieldwork has traditionally been understood as the cornerstone epistemic situation for the production of anthropological knowledge in ethnography. Both an empirical practice and disciplinary narrative, we know that nowadays fieldwork is not what it used to be —or maybe it has never been what the canon narrates—. The solitary confined research practice of ethnography has given way to collaborative projects, far-away locations have been replaced by close-to-home field sites, and traditional visual predominance has been expanded into a multi-sensory concern.
Anthropological imagination has traditionally understood the epistemic practice of fieldwork in observational terms. The core trope of participant observation has worked both as description and prescription for the kind of social relationships and epistemic practices through which anthropologists produce knowledge in the field. The entrance of anthropology in novel empirical sites and the construction of new objects of study in the last decades seem to require from us to urgently revise and devise other forms of practising fieldwork.
Invoking the figure of the experiment acts as a provocation to investigate alternative epistemic practices in ethnography. #Colleex intends to explore the infrastructures, spaces, forms of relationships, methods and techniques required to inject an experimental sensibility in fieldwork. Nevertheless, there is no intention to oppose experimentation to observation. On the contrary, #Colleex seeks to discern the multiple forms of relationship between these two epistemic forms —and their correlate modes of relationality— that in different circumstances and situations may be complementary, adjacent or substitutive.
Not alien to the anthropological endeavour, experimentation was invoked decades ago as an opportunity to renovate the discipline through novel forms of ethnographic writing and representation. #Colleex network would like to further develop that experimental impulse present in many anthropological sensibilities, shifting its locus from the process of writing to the practice of fieldwork. The intention is to work on a question: What would ethnographic fieldwork look like if it was shaped around the epistemic practice of experimentation? Hence, Collaboratory for Ethnographic Experimentation
#Colleex fieldwork experimentation is not being invoked just for its own sake but because there is a prospect that it could help foster new forms of anthropological theorization.
The network seeks to connect with anthropologists and other practitioners of ethnography interested in discussing their fieldwork practice. It could be of interest for specialists in the fields of visual anthropology, sensory anthropology, digital ethnography, design anthropology, social scientists, researchers using participatory methodologies, creative intersections of art and anthropology, or anthropology and STS. The network also seeks to include specialists from other domains like artists, cultural producers, designers and practitioners of any discipline interested in the creative experimentation with ethnographic practice. The inventive unfolding of ethnography taking place in those areas could greatly contribute to strengthen the reach of anthropological fieldwork practices.
#Colleex is established as a collaboratory, a project that aims at promoting forms of collaboration among all those interested in the topic under discussion.