Ethnographic Research Methods
Taught by Rachel Signer
Rachel Signer writes about food and wine for Eater, Food Republic, Edible Magazine, Vine Pair, and others. She fell in love with wine while working at the restaurant Reynard, and then worked at Uva Wines in Williamsburg, which sells an array of organic, natural, and high-end wines. She loves sharing her passion for wine by helping people become more confident and adventurous drinkers.
Ethnography is a process and intervention that leads to an intense, in-depth understanding of a situation or population from a historical vantage point that is at once objective and subjective.
This two-session workshop is aimed at artists, designers, entrepreneurs, writers, and journalists whose work might benefit from ethnographic research. Ethnography will be presented in this course both in its traditional academic context - as it has been used by anthropologists for centuries to determine social structures in site-specific environments - as well as through a radicalized lens that opens up ethnography to our contemporary landscape. This latter form will embrace ethnography as a multimedia, multi-sited method of gathering information about any target: a potential product market, a cultural setting, a geographic phenomenon, a neighborhood, or even an online community.
Ultimately, you’ll learn how to become a “citizen ethnographer” by bringing an ethnographic question from start to finish. In addition to emphasizing practical skills, the course will encourage participants to consider the ethical and political implications of their ethnographic research.
End products of the course will vary on individual students' area of interest; it could be a business plan, a pitch for a research project or longform story, a photo essay, a film, a Power Point presentation, a website/blog, or even a concept that is a starting point for another project. And, students who want to do ethnography for nothing more than curiosity and intellectual stimulation are also encouraged, as experiential knowledge of a particular subject can be worthwhile for its own sake.
This class, like all the rest, takes place at the Brainery space at the corner of W. 9th and Court in Carroll Gardens.