Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Standing Ovation

EPIC ended properly with a standing ovation for Ken and Tracey, for a great job in organizing this event. And deservedly so. There was a great deal of energy throughout the second day, and people in the audience really appreciated having a place to discuss issues important to the discipline and its evolution.

Marietta Baba ended the conference with a discussion that included the pervasive theme of hybridization, but she talked about a different type of hybrid, that of theory and practice, a theme throughout the conference and a reflexive issue common to the ethnographic practice. It was a rousing talk (and it wasn’t simply the “mating” metaphors she used that raised the crowd’s temperature), and there was the palpable sense of agreement in the crowd – that the discipline has reached a point where the two can and must coexist within the Western domain of the ethnographic discipline.

In rending barriers, Marietta Baba also marked this time as the point of liberation for ethnography, that it is finally having its “coming out” party beyond the discipline of anthropology. Prior to Baba’s talk, Tracey took a quick poll of the crowd and found, while anthropology still dominates, there were people in the audience coming from sociology, cultural studies, design, engineering, business, HCI, etc. – lots of hands on this elephant (to continue with Jeanette Blomberg’s metaphor). And, as Christina Wasson said in introducing the cutting-edge session, it is in the interdisciplinary nature of this field that we can find strength.

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