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Ethnography and Design: Mutual Provocations is made possible through funding from the UC Office of the President, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and participating units across University of California campuses.
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Saturday, October 29 • 8:00am - 9:50am
Experiments in Knowledge Production: Conceptualizing and designing ethnographic research as “healing”

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This workshop builds on lessons the workshop organizer has learned through conducting ethnographic research about “healing circles” in a nearby southern California city where working with a Restorative Justice collaborative she examines the intersection of community healing practices and political activism. Playing with concepts developed through ethnographic engagement such as “ healing-ongoing,” as well as with other terms commonly used to describe ethnographic practices such as “process” and “listening,” in this workshop participants are asked to consider: can ethnographic practices of knowledge production be healing for researchers and research participants alike? What might it look like for ethnographers to imagine and design their research practice as well as research products to be healing for their interlocutors, themselves, the planet, and beyond? In medical research such as clinical trials, the hypothesis, and hope, that a given intervention will benefit a research population is often a requirement to justify exposing those populations to drugs and other treatments. In a sense, clinical trials are designed to be explicitly healing. Clinical trials are closed ended, use isolated variables, and work with carefully pre-defined populations.

The design of both healing circles and ethnographic methods are distinct from clinical trials in that they are open ended, self-reflexive, and work with emergent and often changing populations. All of these modalities are experimental and require attention to ethical concerns about both process and outcome. The workshop will include activities in a large group (in a circle) and in small groups and pairs. Reflections will be about ones’ own research and interactions with people/beings/phenomena in the field---thinking about process---as well as the “results” of research and how/if the results of ethnographic research (as diagnosis, as unsettling, as solution, etc.) might be conceptualized as healing. Lastly, the group will reflect upon the limits and potential pitfalls of the concept of “research as healing.”

avatar for Connie McGuire

Connie McGuire

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California, Irvine
Connie McGuire received her PhD in socio-cultural anthropology with the graduate feminist emphasis from UC Irvine, a Masters in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas, Austin and a BA in Sociology from Vassar College. Connie works in the fields of the Anthropology... Read More →