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Talk: "Hosting the Platform for Experimental, Collaborative Ethnography,” Professor Kim Fortun, University of California, Irvine, MY 632, 7 September, 2-4pm

In conjunction with SACS, the VUW Anthropology Programme, and VUW's Science in Society Programme, we are very pleased to welcome Professor Kim Fortun, Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine and current president of the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S). Professor Fortun will deliver a seminar titled: 

Hosting the Platform for Experimental, Collaborative Ethnography

The Platform for Experimental, Collaborative Ethnography (PECE, pronounced “peace”) is a digital research environment designed to support new forms of collaboration among researchers across time and space and new ways of drawing users into ethnographic research.  PECE’s “design logics” translate critical theoretical commitments (to perspectival multiplicity, and the work of displacement and différance, for example) into digital terms.  PECE is thus a practical project to technically support collaborative ethnography while also a experiment in counter-hegemonic social and language forms.  It is also a research project to understand the valences and possibilities of digital space for knowledge production, exploring the intellectual, social and political consequences of different language ideologies.  In this presentation, I’ll describe the ethnographic origins of PECE in studies of environmental public health then describe how PECE has become a site for exposing, testing and extending ethnographic methods and the pedagogical and political promise of ethnographic modes of inquiry.  I’ll  also provide a tour of PECE and kin projects, including The Asthma Files, The Disaster STS Research Network, and stsInfraStrucTureS.  I’lll describe PECE’s architecture, functionality, and “design logics,” and demonstrate how they work in various instances of the platform.  There will be time for questions about ways PECE could be used by new users, working on different kinds of projects. 


Bio: Kim Fortun is a Professor and Department Chair in the University of California Irvine’s Department of Anthropology.  Her research and teaching focus on environmental risk and disaster, and on experimental ethnographic methods and research design.  Her research has examined how people in different geographic and organizational contexts understand environmental problems, uneven distributions of environmental health risks, developments in the environmental health sciences, and factors that contribute to disaster vulnerability.  Fortun’s book Advocacy After Bhopal Environmentalism, Disaster, New World Orders was awarded the 2003 Sharon Stephens Prize by the American Ethnological Society.  From 2005-2010, Fortun co-edited the Journal of Cultural Anthropology. Currently, Fortun is working on a book titled Late Industrialism: Making Environmental Sense, on The Asthma Files, a collaborative project to understand how air pollution and environmental public health are dealt with in different contexts, and on design of the Platform for Experimental and Collaborative Ethnography (PECE), an open source/access digital platform for anthropological and historical research.  Fortun also runs the EcoEd Research Group, which turns ethnographic findings about environmental problems into curriculum delivered to young students (kindergarten-grade 12), and is helping organize both the Disaster-STS Research Network, and the Research Data Alliance’s Digital Practices in History and Ethnography Interest Group.   Fortun co-edits a book series for University of Pennsylvania Press titled Critical Studies in Risk and Disaster, designed to connect academic research to public problems and policy, reaching audiences in different regions of the world.  Currently, Fortun serve as President of the Society for Social Studies of Science, the international scholarly society representing the field of Science and Technology Studies.