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Archive ethnography and the depositivist style: Experiments with the Platform for Experimental Ethnography (PECE)

With Professor Kim Fortun, and Professor Mike Fortun
24 Jan 2022
With Professor Kim Fortun, and Professor Mike Fortun

In this presentation we discuss archive ethnography as an experimental way to produce, curate, communicate and politically activate ethnographic knowledge.  We focus on our design, development, and use of the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), open source software supporting virtual research environments for cultural anthropologists, historians, cultural heritage scholars, and community organizations working with–and openly sharing– diverse data (including extensive “unstructured” data) largely through interpretive methods. We present the multiple uses and ends of PECE: as a practical project to technically infrastructure ethnographic data sharing and collaboration; as a research project to explore and understand the limits and valences of digital space for archivization and knowledge production; as an inquiry into the intellectual, social, and political consequences of different data cultures and language (semiotic) ideologies; and as an experiment in counter-hegemonic forms of scholarly work, from community archives (such as the Formosa Plastics Global Archive, focused on activist data collection in highly polluted fenceline communities) to new forms of peer review and open access publication.

We conclude with brief remarks about the depositivist style of ethnography, our term for an archive- and data-centric mode of anthropological practice and theory.

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