Brainstorming on Patchwork Ethnography


Chika Watanabe, University of Manchester

Gokce Gunel, Rice University

For researchers using ethnographic methods; long-term fieldwork is becoming difficult. Neoliberal university labour conditions; expectations of work-life balance; environmental concerns; and feminist and decolonial critiques have demanded a rethinking of fieldwork as a process that entails spending a year or longer in a faraway place. We propose 'patchwork ethnography' to consolidate the innovations that are already happening in ethnographic research out of necessity to balance family and research; for example; but that remain black boxed. Patchwork ethnography begins from the acknowledgement that recombinations of 'home' and 'field' have now become necessities. Patchwork ethnography refers not to one-time; short trips and relationships a la consultants; but rather; to research efforts that maintain the long-term commitments; language proficiency; contextual knowledge; and slow thinking of so-called traditional fieldwork. This workshop will build on the Patchwork Ethnography Webinar from June 2021 to consolidate what patchwork ethnography can mean as a methodology and theory.