CFP: Public Ethnography: Connecting New Genres, New Media, New Audiences

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada June 1-2, 2012
Extended abstract submission deadline: November 15, 2011
Registration deadline: April 15, 2012
Keynote presenters: Paul Stoller (Anthropology, West Chester University), Norman K. Denzin (Communication, University of Illinois)
Organizer: Phillip Vannini, (Communication & Culture, Royal Roads University)
Advisory committee: Claudio Aporta (Sociology & Anthropology, Carleton University, Canada); Mike Evans (Arts and Social Sciences, Southern Cross University, Australia); Kip Jones (Media, Bournemouth University, UK); Monica Prendergast (Drama/Education Theatre, University of Victoria, Canada); David Redmon (Sociology, Harvard University, USA); Alisse Waterston (Anthropology, City University of New York, USA).
Conference website:
How can ethnographers make their voices better heard? How can ethnographic research become more popular? How can different ethnographic genres and new and traditional communication media facilitate the popularization of ethnographic research? As several commentators have outlined, ethnography is uniquely positioned to appeal to the general public yet it is still distinctly absent in popular media such as television, radio, and digital platforms such as iTunes. When carried out with the information and entertainment needs and wants of the public in mind, ethnographic research has the potential to reach beyond the confines of academic discourse and can position social scientific knowledge at the nexus of public debate, current affairs, and popular culture. A fully public ethnography can better engage multiple stakeholders and can play a key role in the critical pedagogy of the general public. But how can this be achieved in practice? And at what costs and risk?

Ethnography – understood broadly as the qualitative, in-depth, emic study of people’s ways of life – is undergoing a significant shift towards reflexive, embodied, sensuous, performative, narrative, arts-informed, more-than-representational, and multimodal characteristics. These trends are pushing ethnography away from an exclusively academic and print-based domain into the public sphere. Ethnographers now increasingly realize they can thrive in a public domain craving documentary knowledge inspired and informed by diverse popular media, genres, arts, and communication modes.
The conference is intended to be an intimate gathering of ethnographers, €”both faculty and students, €”across all social scientific fields and disciplines. The organizers welcome presentation proposals (both individual submissions and panels) that show examples of public ethnography, or that reflect on the value and agenda of public ethnography. Examples of public ethnographic research in progress or completed will draw from fieldwork projects that have reached beyond academic audiences by directly addressing members of the general public, or by drawing significant attention from news media. Reflections on public ethnography will instead focus on taking stock of the methodological, epistemological, ethical, or practical challenges and opportunities faced by public ethnographers.
A peer-reviewed journal special issue on the theme of the conference will be developed. Presenters will also be able to submit their work for consideration for publication in the Routledge Innovative Ethnographies book series (
To submit a presentation proposal please email a 150 word abstract, title, five keywords, and short bio(s) of the presenter(s) attending to Make sure to clearly identify the type of presentation proposed (example or reflection) in a separate note, which should also contain any information about special audio/visual and other technical equipment needs you may have.
Registration fee: CAD$250 (faculty) CAD$150 (students). Includes two lunches, two breakfasts.
Conference site: The Inn at Laurel Point, Victoria BC (
Conference delegates’ rates starting from CAD$119 + taxes.
Phillip Vannini
Professor and Canada Research Chair
(Innovative Learning and Public Ethnography)
School of Communication and Culture
Royal Roads University