Accepted Paper:

Inscribing collaboration in the digital archive of ethnographic field data  


Aleksandra Kasatkina (Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

In my presentation I would like to show how answering experimentally the challenges of making open archive of field interviews collected in a scientific expert environment, the Obninsk project team elaborated digital form reflecting analytically the process of collaborative production of each transcript.

Paper long abstract:

Web-based digital archives, (inter)active and open-ended, offer a form of ethnographic writing best suited to the present condition of producing qualitative field research and consuming knowledge (Marcus 2013).

The Obninsk digital project (dir. Dr. Andrey Zorin/Dr. Galina Orlova) implemented by the multidisciplinary team is aimed to analytical medialization of various data collected during the ethnographic fieldwork in the town of Obninsk (Russia), 2012-2013. The analytical focus is on the culture of the late Soviet period scientific community built around the nuclear programs conducted in the town. The archive is supposed to perform multileveled analytics representing raw data interconnected with general codes along with microanalytic visualizations and conventional descriptive and interpretative papers, and therefore to serve as analytical tool and experimental site provoking reflections on how knowledge is produced from qualitative data in interdisciplinary space of qualitative research.

Our interlocutors are scientists and engineers, often prominent experts in their areas and public persons. The archive form allows respectfully presenting their social and historical statements along with our analysis. Considering their expectations from the archive and their conventions of public writing becomes crucial when it comes to open publishing their biographical interviews, and makes us revise norms of the standard ethnographic research model. Standard procedure of authorization turns into a complicated and rich dialogue; every authorized transcript becomes the result of collaboration and compromise. Digital tools enable us to inscribe these negotiations in the form of the archive itself, articulating the impacts of both sides and still complying with conventional ethics.

Panel IP05
Ethnography as collaboration/experiment