Anthropology has been many things over the past century and a half and ethnography has arguably been the tool of its becoming. As the “anthro” in the anthropogenic, this sense of 21st century ethnography as motile and shifting with its objects as they in turn redefine the discipline is also what distinguishes it from the forms of ethnography in other fields. Our claim that there is something distinctive about the anthropological exercise of ethnography does not mean it is unrelated to the ethnographic practices of other disciplines; rather its affiliative propensity—its ability to travel across and through disciplines, from Sociology to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Studies--is the means through which it continues as an emergent practice.
Rice Anthropology and the Ethnographic Design Collaboratory embrace the experimental. Our experiments with form extend from conversations initiated in the department through the 1980s and 1990s, but are not limited to them. We embrace performance, memory-oriented, collaborative, participatory and community building ethnography, where ethnography constitutes a “coming community” and the very act of engaging in ethnography becomes the means through which new communities are created through collaboration and traditional communities sustained. In this spirit, we also embrace the autoethnographic in feminist, queer, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, diasporic, decolonial and abolitionist ethnography; and seek to hone an ethnographic sensibility outside a white/imperial gaze, one that arcs toward social justice and foments capacity for deep transformation. As we live and work through times of escalating crisis, ethnography enables us to envision new ways of thinking, acting, and being together; of crafting necessary interventions and of seeing their effects in real-time.