Technologies and Techniques
August, 2013: “Technologies and Techniques”, University of Waterloo / Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo (ON), Canada
In early August, over 160 faculty, researchers and grad students from 19 countries arrived in Waterloo, Canada for the 11th conference of the IIEMCA. The conference was jointly organized by academics from the University of Waterloo and the host institution, Wilfrid Laurier University. Over four days, delegates explored the theme “Technologies and Techniques” with four exceptional keynote speakers, a host of EM/CA veterans and a vibrant and exciting collection of mid and early career researchers.
Nozomi Ikeya, professor of Sociology at Keio University Japan, opened the conference. Her keynote, “Designing Change in an Organizational Context” examined an ongoing ethnographic project with Japanese rail companies looking for methods to organize information for easy retrieval. Geoff Raymond of UC Santa Barbara took to the big podium for day two’s keynote, “Opening Up Sequence Organization”. Prof. Raymond’s talk contributed to the recent interest amongst ethnos and conversation analysts in ‘epistopics’ and social organization/displays of knowledge and authority. In the penultimate keynote, Prof. Stanley Raffel, University of Edinburg, asked questions of the moral implications of EM/CA research in light of Blum and McHugh’s self-reflective ‘analysis’. Prof. Richard Harper, Microsoft Research Cambridge, closed the conference by asking delegates to consider how they store, retrieve and understand their personal digital information and artifacts.
WLU’s Peter Eglin introduced the conference by discussing Canada’s contribution to EM/CA, and the diversity of scholarship that emerged from the University of British Columbia in the late 1960s and early 70s. While the group, which includes Eglin, James Heap, Dorothy Smith and others, dispersed both geographically and academically, they each remain active researchers and contributors to ethnographic and qualitative research. In a nod to the uniquely Canadian character of EM/CA, Eglin paid tribute to the host of affiliated friends who share our concerns with social scholarship while branching into different aspects of theory and research.
Their leader at UBC, Roy Turner, delivered what many will consider to be the highlight of the conference, an expansive discussion of Ethno’s early days, his experience with David Sudnow as graduate students of Erving Goffman, his interactions with Garfinkel, Sacks, Cicourel, Schegloff and Zimmerman and the progress EM/CA research has made over the six decades since the famous Jury Study at Harvard. Turner asked numerous questions of importance to the continued enterprise of EM/CA research, concluding with a call to envision what comes next in light of repeated findings of social order at every turn?
The feedback we have received from delegates indicates the conference was an overwhelming success, to which we owe a debt of gratitude to the excellent quality and convivial spirit of our participants. We were witness to four days of the ‘state-of-the-art’ in EM/CA research, and we are happy to report that the organization is as healthy and vibrant as it has been in years. Always concerned with authenticity, many delegates asked the ubiquitous question ‘… but is it ethno?’, and we can conclude that this conference indeed was an exciting and dramatic display of contributions to EM/CA. We look forward to seeing everyone again in two years time… with announcements about that conference to be made soon!
Source: Patrick Watson, EMCA Newsletter, Fall 2013