Book

Luke Cantarella, Christine Hegel and George Marcus

Routledge (2019)

Ethnography by Design, unlike many investigations into how ethnography can be done, focuses on the benefits of sustained collaboration across projects to ethnographic enquiry, and the possibilities of experimental co-design as part of field research. The book translates specifically scenic design practices, which include processes like speculation, materialization, and iteration, and applies them to ethnographic inquiry, emphasizing both the value of design studio processes and “designed” field encounters. The authors make it clear that design studio practices allow ethnographers to ask and develop very different questions within their own and others’ research and thus, design also offers a framework for shaping the conditions of encounter in ways that make anthropological suppositions tangible and visually apparent. Written by two anthropologists and a designer, and based on their experience of their collective endeavours during three projects, Luke Cantarella, Christine Hegel, and George E. Marcus examine their works as a way to continue a broader inquiry into what the practice of ethnography can be in the twenty-first century, and how any project distinctively moves beyond standard perspectives through its crafted modes of participation and engagement.

By weaving together ethnography, art, and design, this book displaces anthropology’s logocentric emphasis on written texts toward designed encounters where creation and genuine surprise might not be the exception but the rule. Ethnography by Design, finally, enables us to perceive anew the elusive onto-epistemic constellation always lurking at the intersection of the real, the possible, the emergent, and the futural.

  • Arturo Escobar, University of North Carolina, USA

Luke Cantarella, Christine Hegel and George E. Marcus have played a leading role in new research located at the intersection of art, design, and anthropology. Ethnography by Design provides an invaluable guide to this promising new terrain, combining important speculative insights with a pragmatic guide to their unique working method.

  • Grant Kester, University of California, San Diego, USA

Ethnography by Design brilliantly enacts and teaches speculative design practices that cultivate thinking through making.

  • Kathleen Stewart, University of Texas, USA

This book brilliantly sets the scene for ethnography as collaborative practice, and is essential reading for artists, designers, and anthropologists, as well as others interested in the study of people in and as part of the world.

  • Kerstin Leder Mackley, University College London, University of London, UK”