ethnographic experimentation events multimodal

Anthropology and ethnographic experimentation > #EASA2024 PhD Summer School

17-22 July 2024 | Hall Hub, Open University of Catalonia (UOC),  Rambla del Poblenou 154, 08018 Barcelona

Photo: Interactive workshop at Medialab-Prado in Madrid (Medialab-Prado)

EASA is pleased to announce its first PhD summer school, supporting the development of early career scholars.

This will be held in Barcelona in the week before the 18th EASA Biennial Conference. The focus of the six-day school will be ethnographic experimentation.

Ethnographic experimentation is an anthropological response to the epistemic challenges of our contemporary world. Beyond traditional norms and forms of ethnography, there are all kinds of projects that experiment with forms of representation, fieldwork, and analysis. The ‘experiment’ emerges in all these ethnographies as a distinctive epistemic practice, different from observational activities that are the foundation for its empirical engagements. Experimentation is  an opportunity to reconceptualise and transform the empirical practices of anthropology.

This summer school, organised by Adolfo Estalella and Tomás Criado, brings together a programme exploring the analysis, characterisation, and design of ethnographic experiments, along with opportunities to try them in practice. The school combines conceptual sessions with group debates and hands-on practical activities. Field experiments will be designed to respond to a situated ethnographic challenge. The school will foster a convivial atmosphere of mutual learning between participants and an openness to local actors with whom relevant approaches could be discussed and explored. Participants will be equipped with an analytic repertoire as well as a series of practical skills to attempt their own ethnographic experiments.

Funded and promoted by EASA. Organized by xcol. An Ethnographic Inventory Curated by Adolfo Estalella (UCM) and Tomás Criado (UOC)

Partners: Open University of Catalonia (UOC); Social Anthropology and Social Psychology Dept., Complutense University of Madrid (UCM); Anthropology Department, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC); Spanish Association of Social Anthropology (ASAEE)

Who can apply?: PhD students who are paid-up members of EASA. Selection will be based on application fit and diversity criteria.

Registration fee: €150. Dinners during the summer school are included.

Travel Bursary: partial travel bursaries will be available from EASA based on need.

How to apply: applicants are asked to explain how they plan to use, or have used, experimentation in their own PhD research. Apply here.

The application deadline is May 17 with the aim of communicating results by May 31.


Pedagogical proposal and methodology

The school combines theoretical sessions, debates and practical activities. Students will work in small groups on two sites/problems.

Theory, case, and debate sessions. These sessions are structured in three slots: a brief theoretical introduction (30 min.), a case that will be presented by a group of students (30 min.), and a debate (30 min.).

Hands-on activities in the field. Students will have to develop an experimental project during the week-long school. Groups will engage in two sites proposed by the school with the goal of making a brief empirical investigation and developing an ethnographic experiment.

Mentoring. Each group will have an assigned tutor who will discuss with them their experimental projects in daily meetings.

Self-managed dinner. The school will pay particular attention to the informal moments of social interaction, in this sense dinners will be a special moment to socialize. Participants will be in charge of organising it.



[Download programme here]

Wednesday 17 July, 2024

10.00 – 11.30. 1st session. Ethnographic experimentation: an introduction.

11.30 – 12.00. Coffee break.

12.00 – 13.30. 2nd session. Ethnography, more than a method: Field devices for anthropological inquiry.

13.30 – 15.00 Lunch break.

15.00 – 18.00 Hands-on session: organisation of groups.

18.00 – 20.00. Visiting the field sites for activities.

20.30. Dinner at the beach.

Thursday 18 July, 2024

10.00 – 11.30. 3rd session. The ethnographic invention.

11.30 – 12.00. Break

12.00 – 13.30. 4th session. Styles of ethnographic experimentation.

13.30 – 15.00 Lunch.

15.00 – 19.00. Hands-on session: Field site engagement.

19.00 – 20.00. Summary of the day and common thoughts (a collective session to share impressions from our first day of group activities).

20.30. Dinner. Cooking together (self-managed).

Friday, 19 July, 2024

10.00 – 11.30. 5th session. Beyond text: Experiments on ethnographic expression.

11.30 – 12.00. Coffee break.

12.00 – 13.30. 6th session. Beyond representation: Experiments on multimodal anthropology.

13.30 – 15.30. Lunch on site (each group on their own).

15.30 – 19.00. Activity in the field: devising devices.

19.00 – 20.00. Group debriefing meetings with tutors.

20.30. Dinner. Cooking together (self-managed).

Saturday, 20 July, 2024

10.00 – 13.30. Hands-on session: field site investigation.

13.30 – 15.30. Lunch on site (each group on their own).

15.30 – 19.00. Hands-on session: working on ethnographic accounts.

19.00 – 20.00. Group debriefing meetings with tutors.

20.30. Dinner. Cooking together (self-managed).Sunday

10.00 – 13.30. Hands-on session: field site investigation.

13.30 – 15.30. Lunch on site (each group on their own).

15.30 – 20.00. Hands-on session: working on ethnographic accounts.

20.30. Dinner. Cooking together (self-managed).

Monday, 21 July, 2024

10.00 – 13.30. Meeting with tutors: Hands-on session at UOC.

13.30 – 15.30. Lunch on site (each group on their own).

16.00 – 19.00. Public presentations of the group experiments.

20.00. Dinner and good-bye party.


1st session. Ethnographic experimentation: an introduction.

Tomás Sánchez Criado & Adolfo Estalella. 2018. Introduction. Experimental collaborations. In A. Estalella & T. S. Criado (Eds.), Experimental collaborations. Ethnography through fieldwork devices (pp. 1-30). New York, Oxford: Berghahn.

First case

Cantarella, L., Marcus, G. E., & Hegel, C. (2019). Ethnography by design: Scenographic experiments in fieldwork. Taylor & Francis. Introduction and Chapter 3.

2nd session. Ethnography, more than a method: Field devices for anthropological inquiry

Law, J. (2004). After Method: Mess in Social Science Research. Routledge. Introduction.

Law, J., & Ruppert, E. (2013). The Social Life of Methods: Devices. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(3), 229-240.

Second case

Khandekar, A., Costelloe-Kuehn, B., Poirier, L., Morgan, A., Kenner, A., Fortun, K., & Fortun, M. (2021). Moving Ethnography: Infrastructuring Doubletakes and Switchbacks in Experimental Collaborative Methods. Science & Technology Studies, 34(3), 78-102.

3rd session. The ethnographic invention.

Estalella, A., & Criado, T.S. (2023). Introduction: The ethnographic invention. In T.S. Criado & A. Estalella (Eds.), An Ethnographic Inventory: Field Devices for Anthropological Inquiry (pp. 1-14). Routledge.

Third case.

Hartblay, C. (2020). I Was Never Alone or Oporniki: An Ethnographic Play on Disability. Toronto University Press. Introduction.

4th session. Styles of ethnographic experimentation.

Estalella, A. (n/d). The anthropological experiment (and the disappearing field of ethnography).

Fourth case.

Martínez, F. (2021). Ethnographic experiments with artists, designers and boundary objects: Exhibitions as a research method. UCL Press. Self-selected fragments.

5th session. Beyond text: Experiments on ethnographic expression.

Cox, R., Irving, A., & Wright, C. (Eds.) (2016). Beyond text?: Critical practices and sensory anthropology. Manchester University Press. Introduction.

Fifth case.

Flores, M., Suárez, M., & Nuñez, J. (2021, January 18). EthnoData: A collaborative project in cross-disciplinary experimentation – Society for Social Studies of Science. 

6th session. Beyond representation: Experiments on multimodal anthropology.

Dattatreyan, E. G., & Marrero-Guillamón, I. (2019). Introduction: Multimodal Anthropology and the Politics of Invention. American Anthropologist, 121(1), 220-228.

Sixth case.

Farías, I., & Criado, T.S. (2023). How to game ethnography. En T. Sánchez Criado & A. Estalella (Eds.), An Ethnographic Inventory: Field Devices for Anthropological Inquiry (pp. 102-111). Routledge.

accessibility caring infrastructures more-than-human multimodal objects of care and care practices older people publications technical aids urban and personal devices

Ageing Cities > Zine

How are cities and urban designers responding to the challenge of population ageing? How can we as ethnographers understand the social and material transformations underway in their efforts to shape ‘ageing-friendly’ cities or cities ‘for all ages’? These are two of the leading research questions of our ethnographic study project “Ageing Cities” on which we worked together in the academic year 2021-2022.

Our main concern has been to explore the distinctive intergenerational design challenges of what some architects and urban planners are beginning to call “Late Life Urbanism” (check the video of the final presentation).

Our exploration included an excursion in April 2022 to Alicante, Benidorm and neighbouring urban enclaves in the Costa Blanca (Spain). The area is relevant as ageing bodies and practices have become, since the 1960s, a sort of vector of urbanisation in the region: developing into what some geographers call “the Pensioners’ Coast.”

Considering the intriguing history of migration of this region, with pensioners from all over Central and Northern Europe (but also from other regions of Spain) relocating there, the “Pensioners’ Coast” is an interesting experimental ground to witness what happens when older bodies take centre-stage. Over the course of seven eventful and exciting days we had the chance to explore how sensitised urban designers from the area respond to the intergenerational design challenges these bodies bring in different ways.

In a joint endeavour with STS-inspired architectural researchers from the Critical Pedagogies, Ecological Politics and Material Practices research group of the University of Alicante, the visit allowed us to explore different approaches to architectural practice where older people have more active roles in the design and management of ageing cities (from cooperative senior cohousing to inter- and multigenerational housing projects, as well as accessible public space infrastructures, ranging from sidewalks to beaches and public transportation).

With this Zine we wish to share some of our main reflections, learnings to engage ethnographically with late life urbanism in Costa Blanca (or should we say eng-age?). The Zine could be taken as a long thank you note and a memoir of our encounters with different initiatives. But we also see it as a relevant intergenerational gift of sorts, lent to future urban researchers on these topics.


Lo-Res PDF | Hi-Res PDF

Editorial team

Adam Petráš, Anna Maria Schlotmann, Christine Maicher, Doreen Sauer, Erman Dinç, Maximilian Apel & Tomás Sánchez Criado

Design and typesetting

Maximilian Apel

CC BY NC ND November 2023 Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

materials multimodal research projects

Appreciating multimodality: A practice of proliferating nuances?

[Originally published in the Multimodal Appreciation project website]


Most of our discussions in the project Multimodal Appreciation seem to pivot around the idea of values: how can multimodal projects be valued, and what are the values of this kind of projects? The multimodal might seem to be expanding or unsettling the values of given or conventional text-centric anthropological practice, doing it so in different ways from other areas of practice where this has been attempted for years (ethnographic films or exhibitions, design anthropology, etc.). Also, some of these productions pose great challenges to understand their worth in anthropological terms, even if they could be discussed in the terms of other areas of practice (the arts, curatorial approaches, etc.)

However, what do we mean when we talk about values? When we debate amongst anthropologists, there seems to be enough of a constructivist consensus that this term doesn’t mean a set of predefined ethical or moral compasses to judge after the truth of a project has been settled (as in classic science/values divides) its good and bad prospects. Rather, what we tend to highlight are the criteria being mobilised, when not the codified conventions and forms of institutionalised ‘taste’ when approaching a given work or process.

Some of these notions might be articulated in words or other semiotic languages, and there might even be a discursive field providing conditions of legibility, helping us articulate about what might be relevant in these productions. For instance, collaborative anthropology or ethnographic film, with their journals, books, meetings and training workshops, have developed a very nuanced series of conditions to render a given project legible. However, these discursive fields and codified conventions, when they exist, are not always enough. Even if they might be useful, when only thinking about them we run the risk of ‘explaining away’ a project’s series of tensions or aspirations with already existing terms and approaches.

What becomes amply evident whenever we’re in the presence of any kind of ethnographic project (be it multimodal or not) is that, Bourdieu notwithstanding, taste doesn’t simply seem to be in the embodied predispositions we have come to be raised in as anthropologists or as people. Taste, in more sensory and practical terms, seems to partake of a more cumbersome process of educating attention (Ingold 2001). Indeed, appreciation is a process that needs to be elucidated in variegated embodied practices, many times plunging sensorially in the peculiar social and material world a project offers. This also happens, needless to say, when we read, a heavily material practice (if anything because typography or the readability of a page, not to speak of our vibes and reactions, are as important there as when we visit an installation).

Come what may, I’d love to suggest that ‘appreciation’ might have something to do with developing a taste for multimodal projects in their singularity, learning to value its nuances, and bring all of that to bear in settings where we approach complicated judgements (although, aren’t they all?) to decide about a project’s worth. Perhaps the virtue of those projects where we lack the conventional and codified words is that they force us to describe and, potentially, find words to articulate them. Yet, this description might need to go beyond simply ‘indexing’ a project, as if this could be done once and for all, also considering how documentation might contribute in a process of finding ever-growing nuances. But also, we need to be able to describe the settings and the conditions, the dispositions, we create to come to terms with a project.

That is, we might need to learn to approach and describe our appreciations and evaluations or judgements as processes where the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ (however situated and relational they might be) are enacted in peculiar settings and through particular practices. I’d love to suggest that to do this, we could draw from the fertile conceptual and descriptive ground of valuation studies: an interdisciplinary crossroads of pragmatist philosophy, STS, economic anthropology and sociology, and cultural studies of taste, which has taken valuation and evaluation, worth and judgement practices as a peculiar area of inquiry (Lamont 2011). Peculiarly, this means paying attention not just to the peculiar social life of devices to materialise our evaluations – ranks or lists, and their power to enact cuts in between nuances – , but also to the practices of valorising (Vatin 2011), whereby we give value to things or change their values. Even if our project will need to deal with both valuation and evaluation, in this post, I’d love to stress the relevance of considering what valorisation brings to understand what’s at stake in multimodal appreciation.

A practice of proliferating nuances

Tasting workshops are, perhaps, an interesting case in point–or should I say ‘food for thought’?–to discuss these valorisation processes.

Some ten years ago I took part in an olive oil tasting one, in the shop of one of Spain’s biggest olive oil producers. In it, we not only learnt to differentiate by name the different kinds of olives used for different commercial varieties, such as: arbequinahojiblancapicual. None of that would’ve mattered much had we not been plunged in tasting their nuances. To do so, we were offered samples, poured in wide blue cobalt glasses. We were instructed to hold the glass with the whole hand, since the heat might create an emulsion of the oil’s vapours, which was going to be crucial for our first approach: smelling, first undirected, then suggesting hints (“can you smell the slight taste of dry tomato?”).

Later, we were to try them out: directly drinking from the glass doing exercises with the tongue (since different nuances are to be sensed by different parts of the mouth, we were told). After we had done this repeatedly for a very longue while, cleansing our palate eating thinly cut apples to try out the sometimes ‘too complicated to feel’ contrasts between different varieties, we were instructed to try out their maridaje (coupling) with breads, salads or different dishes. Always going from undirected to more focused attention, we slowly were provided a simplified version of the charts expert tasters use to make the nuances of each oil apprehensible: their colours, the composition, etc.

Even if this was only a rookie training to start a path of becoming olive oil amateurs, the whole workshop stressed the enormous relevance of tasting: however commoditised and standard their production might have become, beyond regular contrasts and distinctions, each breed of olive oil needs to be tasted, and that’s why expert tasters are involved in the regular production process. In the peculiar ‘economies of qualities’ we seem to be living in, as Michel Callon et al. (2002) call them, making proliferate nuances is not only relevant to marketize only apparently similar goods – something that food portals, rating platforms, and food guides and prizes seem to have elevated to a whole mode of sociality –, but is also part and parcel of a process of experimenting with possible new goods, new products emerging out of tasking and its variegated effects. Much like in music or artistic works.

Indeed, one of the interesting appreciations this brings to the fore is the pragmatist understanding that we might need to approach valuation as operating a different notion of what an object, a good or a work is, far away from dualist bifurcations separating object from subject or culture. Rather than conceiving the production of objects we later value as if there was a Kantian version of them (the noumenon or das Ding an sich) beyond their valuation, the concern with valuation as a practice (Muniesa 2011) seems to plunge us in the problem that appreciation, the judgements enacted in peculiar circumstances can also affect the very things in themselves: not just that values might be relevant for their production but also that the boundaries of a work are not fully settled by the producer, since they grow or lose in nuances as such through these tasting practices.

Taste is, indeed, a collective activity, where rather than the producer alone trying to impose or negotiate its meanings, what matters are the wider series of meaning-making practices, where a work and its affordances (Hennion 2004, 2007) are appreciated inventing or repurposing different devices. An attention to appreciation or valuation as a mediated practice, in fact, requires us to pay attention to how peculiar socio-material conditions of appreciation– ranging from the material and embodied conditions to pay attention to the peculiar data sheets that enable us to focus on certain things and not others so as to register peculiar nuances – play an important role, partaking in granting different trajectories of the projects being valuated (Muniesa & Trébuchet-Breitwiller 2010).

In a piece reflecting on the relevance of odour kits for perfume professional ‘noses’, Latour (2004) uses the notion of articulation to discuss the process of “being affected by differences” (p.210) in a broad non-linguistic sense, which he dims are neither just ‘words’ nor ‘objects’ out there, but what he addresses as propositions. Expounding on this process, he argues:

“To say that odours are propositions articulated in part by the training session, the odour kit and all the other institutions, is not to say that they are ‘things’ – primary qualities – named in ‘words’ by the (arbitrary or socially constrained) labelling activity of a human subject. This is the key philosophical difference […] The articulation of the perfumes does something to the odours themselves, which is at once obvious if one takes into account the enormous mass of transformations they undergo in the hands of the chemical industry and fashion cultures, and hard to swallow since we risk losing the obstinate obduracy of chemicals which are ‘out there’ whatever we, humans, do to them” (p.212)

Tasting, in a nutshell, cannot be disentangled from the process of valuation nor the things being valued, because in valorising we come to render the world articulate. The relevant feature of articulation is that it also appears as a crucial evaluative criterion, since what matters is whether these propositions and the socio-material practices through which they are being proposed are interesting or not, that is, whether they enable to register differences or nuances in relevant ways:

“Fecundity, productivity, richness, originality are crucial features of a good articulation […] ‘Boring’, ‘repetitive’, ‘redundant’, ‘inelegant’, ‘simply accurate’, ‘sterile’, are all adjectives that designate a bad articulation” (p.215).

Peculiarly, in Latour’s terms, interest as a criterion of appreciation is not only in the eye of the beholder, but in the devices and the process devised to render differences articulate. Interest should also be maximised in the things being valued, since it might also mean providing the chances to show their own interests: that is, maximising the possibility of the things under valuation to resist to the very valuations, forcing those who evaluate to further increase the nuances…

How could our project invent devices enabling us to make the nuances of the multimodal projects proliferate, as well as to articulate their contrasts and distinctive features, also making these projects grow in articulation as we appreciate them? Put otherwise, through which kinds of practices might we grant a more nuanced life to these projects? In our first steps, the reflective process of developing a ‘metadata sheet’ and our meetings to discuss lists of projects and their approaches appear to hold such a potential. But will it be enough? What criteria of appreciation of multimodal projects might these practices enable us to practice? Put otherwise, what forms of anthropological practice might we be helping to articulate in doing so?


Callon, Michel, Cécile Méadel, and Vololona Rabeharisoa. “The Economy of Qualities.” Economy and Society 31, no. 2 (January 2002): 194–217.

Hennion, Antoine. “Pragmatics of Taste.” In The Blackwell Companion to the Sociology of Culture, edited by M Jacobs and N Hanrahan, 131–44. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

———. “Those Things That Hold Us Together: Taste and Sociology.” Cultural Sociology 1, no. 1 (2007): 97–114.

Ingold, Tim. “From the Transmission of Representations to the Education of Attention.” In The Debated Mind: Evolutionary Psychology versus Ethnography, edited by Harvey Whitehouse, 113–53. London: Berg, 2001.

Lamont, Michèle. “Toward a Comparative Sociology of Valuation and Evaluation.” Annual Review of Sociology 38, no. 1 (August 11, 2012): 201–21.

Latour, Bruno. “How to Talk about the Body? The Normative Dimension of Science Studies.” Body & Society 10, no. 2–3 (2004): 205–29.

Muniesa, Fabian, and Anne-Sophie Trébuchet-Breitwiller. “Becoming a Measuring Instrument.” Journal of Cultural Economy 3, no. 3 (2010): 321–37.

Muniesa, Fabian. “A Flank Movement in the Understanding of Valuation.” The Sociological Review 59 (December 1, 2011): 24–38.

Vatin, François. “Valuation as Evaluating and Valorizing.” Valuation Studies 1, no. 1 (2013): 31–50.

Picture credits

Featured image: CC 2007 Olive oil tasting at the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival

In-text image: CC BY SA 2023 Example of a regulation cobalt blue olive oil tasting glass with watch glass cover

art collectives design intraventions ecologies multimodal publications research projects techniques & ways of doing

Waste What? A game on the many ways we can reuse stuff

A game on the many ways we can reuse stuff

WASTE WHAT? explores how we can think about materials differently, trying out many ways to keep stuff in use. In the game you play as a material recovery initiative. Your goal is to creatively find new uses for discarded things, closing loops and reducing the amount of waste that is burned.

Original website

2 players or 2 teams /// Age ~10 – ∞ /// ca. 30 min.

A constant avalanche of materials flows through our cities every day: packaging, food that is never eaten, electronics that are quickly outdated, cheap textiles to feed the fast fashion frenzy, furniture and construction materials for temporary spaces. From production to recycling or disposal, these industrial-scale material flows produce emissions and other negative environmental impacts, and take a lot of labor to handle!

In many places around the world, citizen projects are working to do something about it, trying out many ways to keep stuff in use. These initiatives many times struggle to decide what is waste and what is not.

Your city is such a place, what will you do about it? Form a material recovery initiative and fight against things being turned into waste!

WASTE WHAT? An open-source cooperative game for 2 players or 2 teams.

As you repair, recombine and repurpose things, your knowledge and skills grow.

To maximize your impact you can also work together with other initiatives!

You can be specialized in different areas: Textile, Furniture, Bikes, Food, Construction and Electronics.

YOU WIN: If you finish 6 rounds, while keeping low CO2 levels.

YOU LOSE: If any player can’t pay rent at the end of a round or you emit all 3 CO2 tokens in the waste burning facility.

WASTE WHAT? is the main result of the project “Trash Games: Playing with the Circular Economy at Haus der Materialisierung” (2021-2022), funded by the Berlin University Alliance

CC NY NC SA Trash Games, 2022

The research process

Project team

– Vera Susanne Rotter (Project lead)

– Tomás Criado (Project co-lead)

– Ignacio Farías (Project co-lead)

– Isabel Ordóñez (Research and Development)

– Johannes Scholz (Project Coordination)

– Petra Beck (Artistic research and documentation, game development)

– Sebastian Quack (Game design)

– Marisol Escorza (Graphic design)

– Sophie Wulf (Student assistant)

– Adriana Flores Franz (Video documentation)

Acknowledgement for the support in the project

– Johannes Bassler (Textilhafen Berlin – Berliner Stadtmission)

– Simone Kellerhoff (Material Mafia)

– Jens Peitan (MHKW Ruhleben – BSR)

– Elena Sofia Stranges (Ort-Schafft-Material)

– Frieder Sölling (Nochmall – BSR)

– Nora Wilhelm (Mitkunstzentrale)

events experimental collaborations multimodal

Ciclo de seminarios xcol > La invención etnográfica: el arte de hacer preguntas relevantes

Vivimos en una época de grandes crisis que evidencian la imposibilidad de sostener nuestros modos de existencia. Esta situación nos exige repensar y reformular nuestra práctica antropológica para contribuir de manera relevante a las problemáticas de nuestro mundo. A nuestro juicio, una de las posibles respuestas pasa por explorar y animar nuevos modos de indagación antropológica, porque son muchos los que reconocen las limitaciones crecientes de los métodos de investigación de las ciencias sociales: quizá insuficientes, demasiado rígidos y poco adecuados para abordar la complejidad de nuestra contemporaneidad. Las llamadas a una investigación etnográfica más atenta a la pluralidad de los sentidos, la incorporación de múltiples tecnologías digitales, la exploración de formas de colaboración o diferentes aproximaciones experimentales son algunas de las respuestas ante esta situación.

Esta serie de seminarios interviene en ese amplio debate sobre los modos de indagación de la antropología, y lo hace proponiendo una revisión de nuestra manera de conceptualizar la etnografía. Esta ha sido comúnmente concebida como un género de escritura, un método de investigación o una actividad de aprendizaje. Ciertamente todas esas visiones son valiosas, pero ignoran un aspecto central de la actividad etnográfica: la creatividad e improvisación que le es integral. Más allá de los métodos que nos guían en la ardua tarea del trabajo de campo, la etnografía requiere siempre creatividad e inventiva, tanto durante el trabajo de campo, como también más allá de este. Planteamos, por ello, la posibilidad de concebir la etnografía como un ejercicio de invención relacional.

Toda una serie de proyectos contemporáneos, que se alejan de los modos de hacer canonizados en manuales y guías metodológicas, ejemplifican una visión como la que proponemos. Estas investigaciones nos muestran que el trabajo de campo, y de manera amplia la etnografía, es más amplia, compleja y sofisticada de lo que solemos pensar. No pretendemos hacer una lectura revisionista con esta afirmación, todo lo contrario, un vistazo a la historia de la antropología nos enseña que, en realidad, esta siempre ha estado atravesada por gestos de creatividad relacional.

La serie de seminarios ‘La invención etnográfica’ presenta un conjunto de investigaciones que dan cuenta de los esfuerzos de antropólogos y antropólogas de orientaciones muy diversas por ampliar el repertorio de nuestros modos de indagación etnográfica. Cada uno de los proyectos que discutiremos presenta un dispositivo de campo o, expresado alternativamente, cada proyecto describe cómo disponer las condiciones del encuentro etnográfico para pensar y construir problematizaciones con nuestras contrapartes a través de una plataforma digital, una exposición, o la actividad colectiva de bordado. Tras cada una de esas investigaciones, y esto es lo que nos gustaría destacar, encontramos el esfuerzo denodado de antropólogos y antropólogas por formular preguntas relevantes para los tiempos que vivimos.

Cartel e imagen gráfica: Ignacio Serrano

Organizado por: xcol. An Ethnographic Inventory, en colaboración con GINADYC (UCM) & CareNet-IN3 (UOC)

Esta serie de seminarios sirve, también, de ocasión para presentar públicamente el libro ‘An Ethnographic Inventory. Field Devices for Anthropological Inquiry’. Los proyectos presentados en las distintas sesiones forman parte de él.

Cada seminario presenta uno de los proyectos etnográficos incluidos en el libro. Cada presentación, de unos 40 minutos, contará con acompañantes que responderán a ella. Posteriormente habrá un debate abierto con los asistentes de 30 minutos.

Detalles prácticos de los seminarios
Dónde: Seminarios online.
Cuándo: Jueves de 16.00-17.30 (CET).
Cuándo comienzan: Entre el 2 de marzo y 27 de abril de 2023.

Programa ‘La invención etnográfica’ (PDF).


2 de marzo, 16.00-17.30 CET

La invención etnográfica: antropología para un tiempo de crisis

Adolfo Estalella (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) y Tomás Sánchez Criado (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya).
Acompañante: Andrea Ballestero (University of Southern California).

La etnografía es un ejercicio de inventiva relacional, así nos lo muestran los proyectos de este ciclo de seminarios. Estos no siguen técnicas estándar ni se ajustan a convenciones metodológicas, por el contrario, antropólogos y antropólogas llevan a cabo sus investigaciones disponiendo de manera creativa las condiciones para sus encuentros etnográficos, ya sea creando infraestructuras digitales para la colaboración o comisariando exposiciones mientras investigan con artistas. A estos arreglos situados que disponen la situación etnográfica los llamamos dispositivos de campo que emergen de la inventiva relacional que es integral a todo encuentro etnográfico. Esta invocación creativa no debe entenderse como un llamamiento a técnicas novedosas o innovaciones metodológicas, todo lo contrario, se trata de reconocer que el encuentro etnográfico es siempre una situación que demanda de la creatividad relacional del antropólogo. Ante la constatación generalizada de que nuestros métodos son incapaces de responder a los desafíos de la contemporaneidad, creemos que animar la inventiva de la indagación etnográfica es una manera de abrirse a eso que nuestro colega Martin Savransky ha descrito como la imperiosa necesidad de especular con la posibilidad de inventar diferentes modos de hacer preguntas.

9 de marzo, 16.00-17.30 CET

Cómo curar/cuidar de nuestras preguntas etnográficas

Francisco Martínez (Estonian Academy of Arts).
Acompañante: Roger Sansi Roca (Universitat de Barcelona).

Las exposiciones suelen entenderse en antropología como técnicas de representación, sin embargo, también pueden usarse como un modo de indagación. Desde esta perspectiva, comisariar o curar) una exposición no es solo una manera de comunicar resultados de investigación sino un dispositivo para desafiar, inventar o cuestionar críticamente la realidad, siendo parte de una reconfiguración en curso de lo que podría ser el conocimiento y la política. Al hacer uso de las exposiciones como dispositivos experimentales, podemos mostrar nuestras preocupaciones y hacer que el campo etnográfico se despliegue de manera colaborativa e inventiva. Este modo de indagación ayuda a los etnógrafos a construir escenarios más distribuidos de producción de conocimiento, operando tanto como un objeto de indagación como un dispositivo disponible para diferentes actores para actuar-saber. De ahí que las exposiciones se puedan usar para abrir un espacio entre el conocimiento y la invención, así como nuevas formas de estar en el campo.

16 de marzo, 16.00-17.30 CET

Cómo producir una etnografía responsiva

Jorge Núñez y Maka Suárez.
Acompañante: Elisenda Ardévol (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya).

Las plataformas digitales colaborativas e interdisciplinarias abren nuevos modos de investigación para participar en la producción de datos sobre problemas sociales apremiantes, como la violencia y la encarcelación, por ejemplo. La etnografía está particularmente bien posicionada para explorar los entendimientos de diferentes comunidades de conocimiento, así como para documentar las relaciones de poder entre varios actores. Medios como visualizaciones de datos, podcasts, estadísticas oficiales (y no oficiales), archivos legales o encuestas económicas, todos ellos son recursos que ofrecen la posibilidad de incluir diversas voces y puntos de vista. La posibilidad de combinar la etnografía con la investigación impulsada por plataformas digitales tiene la capacidad de generar colaboraciones inesperadas y permitir conexiones novedosas entre temas aparentemente no relacionados. El resultado es un espacio digital experimental para la producción de estudios receptivos.

23 de marzo, 16.00-17.30 CET

Cómo jugar a la etnografía

Ignacio Farías (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) y Tomás Sánchez Criado (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya).
Acompañante: Marjorie Murray (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile).

Los juegos se han convertido recientemente en espacios relevantes para la experimentación antropológica, permitiendo enfoques alternativos al análisis crítico, el trabajo conceptual y la discusión ética. Pero, ¿cómo pueden los juegos volverse relevantes como dispositivos de campo para la investigación etnográfica? El uso de juegos en el campo implica más que hacer etnografía por medios lúdicos o jugar con sus contrapartes. De hecho, las prácticas de “diseño de juegos” y “testeo de juegos” ofrecen modos peculiarmente recursivos de investigación etnográfica. Por un lado, (i) la práctica de diseñar un juego posibilita modos de inventar y proyectar etnográficamente relaciones de campo; en lugar de inscribir o prescribir dinámicas sociales intrincadas, el proceso de diseño del juego implica una forma de exploración etnográfica del campo. Por otro lado, (ii) la práctica del testeo de juegos, más que simplemente permitir reflexionar críticamente sobre un juego dado, nutre relaciones para-etnográficas con los interlocutores. De hecho, en estos testeos también se pone a prueba la indexicalidad etnográfica del juego: desencadenar discusiones o reflexiones y comparaciones de las experiencias representadas en el juego con las que los participantes podrían haber tenido anteriormente, lo que permite la creación recursiva de prototipos.

13 de abril, 17.30-19.00 CET

Cómo mapear a la contra en la investigación etnográfica

3Cs, Sebastián Cobarrubias ((ARAID) y Maribel Casas Cortés (Universidad de Zaragoza).
Acompañantes: Gunther Dietz (Universidad Veracruzana) y Aurora Álvarez Veinguer (Universidad de Granada).

Desde su concepción y diseño hasta su producción y distribución, la práctica de elaboración de mapas puede convertirse en parte de un proceso de investigación y fuente de conocimiento. La cartografía puede ser de esta manera un dispositivo de campo para la investigación etnográfica y una forma gráfica de descripción densa que representa información y análisis que emergen de conocimientos situados. El proceso de mapeo puede facilitar el intercambio y catalizar la formación de identidades compartidas y formas colectivas a través de diferentes posiciones y experiencias vividas. Mapeando de esta manera, los esfuerzos etnográficos se convierten en “prácticas de tejido” dentro de campos abarrotados de creadores de conocimiento. Bajo esta agenda intervencionista de “tejer” entre poblaciones afectadas pero fragmentadas, el contramapa pretende transformar los territorios representados.

20 de abril, 16.00-17.30 CET

Cómo bordar la etnografía

Tania Pérez Bustos (Universidad Nacional de Colombia).
Acompañantes: Ana Mazzino y Sebastián Carenzo (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes).

La etnografía bordada se engendra, primero a partir de la necesidad empírica de comprender la continuidad entre las materialidades textiles y los cuerpos que bordan, y segundo, como un dispositivo metodológico a través del cual estudiar colectivamente y en proceso cómo sienten y se conectan nuestros cuerpos. Como primer descubrimiento, aprender a bordar muestra a la etnógrafa cómo su cuerpo sabe y escucha diferente cuando está inmerso en el hacer textil. Este proceso de aprendizaje crea un ambiente íntimo en el que la etnógrafa se relaciona con aquellos a quienes estudia (bordadoras y bordados) y es invitada, entonces, a explorar cómo bordar con otres o cómo invitar a otres a coser puede desvelar nuevas preguntas con las que bordamos lo que queremos entender etnográficamente. En este proceso, el aprendizaje del bordado como dispositivo de campo se transforma de un objeto para estudiar etnográficamente en un artefacto con el que formular nuevas preguntas etnográficas.

27 de abril, 16.00-17.30 CET

Políticas de la invención

Isaac Marrero Guillamón (Universitat de Barcelona) y Martín Savransky (Goldsmiths, University of London).
Acompañante: Olatz González Abrisketa (Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea).

La invención se encuentra en lo mundano y lo ordinario: en el juego lingüístico, en la improvisación social, y en todos esos momentos ubicuos que pueden animar los potenciales y posibilidades de la práctica etnográfica, ya sea para involucrarse en lo político, apuntar hacia nuevos horizontes de posibilidad, o revelar la dinámica cambiante, incierta y emergente en la que se constituyen las relaciones durante el trabajo de campo. La política, en este sentido, consistiría en el arte de imaginar, invocar, o cultivar nuevas posibilidades y arreglos de vida. Cuando todo esté dicho y hecho, cuando todas las garantías epistémicas y las prescripciones metodológicas hayan desaparecido, cuando el buen sentido y los mandatos moralistas hayan encallado, cuando todas las garantías de una base estable se hayan deshecho, todo lo que queda es el principio de invención: Nada se da, todo se inventa.

materials multimodal resources

Job offer “research assistant” | Oferta de trabajo: “ayudante de investigación” > xcol. An Ethnographic Inventory

We are seeking to recruit a research assistant for xcol. An Ethnographic Inventory,

The person we would hire would work at the Open University of Catalonia in Barcelona.

We are looking for a person trained in the field of social and cultural anthropology or related disciplines, with knowledge of the practice of ethnographic work and with experience in digital publications, interested in helping us develop our research around the web platform of “xcol. An Ethnographic Inventory”.


  1. Collaborate in the mapping and production of a state of the art and a database of experimental and innovative ethnographic projects
  2. Identify, extract and write project drafts found in already published sources (historical or contemporary)
  3. Contact selected projects and support their documentation
  4. Layout and publish the documented projects on the web
  5. Help compile and layout thematic collections of projects in e-book or PDF format

In this phase of the project, we want to develop our research in the following thematic areas:

  1. City, infrastructure and territory
  2. Design and artistic practices
  3. Care and health in informal and formal settings
  4. Diverse bodies, functional diversity and the elderly
  5. Multi-sensoriality and atmospheres
  6. Ecologies and inter-species relations
  7. Emergencies and disasters (pollution, dangerous climate events, pandemics)
  8. Techno-scientific and embodied activism, other knowledges
  9. Institutional ethnographies and in expert environments
  10. Devices for participation, collaboration and public involvement

The successful candidate will be awarded a temporary contract (35%) of 18 months, starting September 4.

Deadline for applications: April 30, 2023

Offer in the job application portal:


Buscamos ayudante de investigación para “xcol. Un Inventario Etnográfico”, proyecto cuyo objetivo es identificar y documentar proyectos etnográficos experimentales e innovadores.

La persona trabajaría en la Universtitat Oberta de Catalunya en Barcelona.

Buscamos a una persona formada en el ámbito de la antropología social y cultural o disciplinas afines, con conocimientos de la práctica del trabajo etnográfico y con experiencia en publicaciones digitales, interesada en ayudarnos a desarrollar nuestra investigación en torno a la plataforma web de “xcol. An Ethnographic Inventory”.

¿Cuáles serán tus funciones?

  1. Colaborar en el mapeo y producción de un estado del arte y una base de datos de proyectos etnográficos experimentales e innovadores
  2. Identificar, extractar y redactar borradores de proyectos que se encuentran en fuentes ya publicadas (históricas o contemporáneas)
  3. Contactar con proyectos seleccionados y apoyar su documentación
  4. Maquetar y publicar en la web los proyectos documentados
  5. Ayudar a compilar y maquetar colecciones temáticas de proyectos en formato libro electrónico o PDF

En esta fase del proyecto, queremos desarrollar nuestra investigación en las siguientes áreas temáticas:

  1. Ciudad, infraestructuras y territorio
  2. Diseño y prácticas artísticas
  3. Cuidado y salud en entornos informales y formales
  4. Cuerpos diversos, diversidad funcional y personas mayores
  5. Multisensorialidad y atmósferas
  6. Ecologías y relaciones inter-especies
  7. Emergencias y desastres (contaminación, eventos climáticos peligrosos, pandemias)
  8. Activismos tecno-científicos y encarnados, otros saberes.
  9. Etnografías institucionales y en entornos expertos.
  10. Dispositivos de participación, colaboración e implicación pública

Se realizará una contratación laboral temporal de 18 meses (35% de dedicación) y con previsión de incorporación a 4 de septiembre.

Fecha límite de postulación: 30 de abril de 2023.

Enlace a la oferta de trabajo y la plataforma para postular:

art collectives ecologies events materials multimodal

Latour, a joyous multimodal thinker

Text for a short video intervention in the Homage: In conversation with Bruno Latour event, jointly organised last January 16, 2023 by the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology & the Laboratory: Anthropology of Environment | Human Relations at the Institut für Europäische Ethnologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (my former institution).

It’s a great pleasure for me to be able to join you all in celebrating one of the figures who has been accompanying me for the last 20 years of my life. I can even say that Bruno Latour is probably one of the main reasons why I became a researcher.

I suppose many of you know Bruno Latour as an anthropologist of science and technology, from his earlier laboratory studies to the works on different kinds of techniques. Some of you might read him as a philosopher of mediation and translation.

But it is as a multimodal thinker that I would like to refer to him. And not only because of his interest in the many modes of existence (multi-modal), but because of his collective explorations of different media forms (multi-media) to articulate them (in a plurality of epistemic ways).

He has notably been exploring different registers of writing, of which two main works stand out:

  1. Paris Ville Invisible: For those studying or interested in studying urban phenomena this is a masterpiece. An essay of photographic social theory, where Latour and Emilie Hermant explore how Paris, the “City of Lights”, cannot exist were it not for a million mediation devices and gadgets circulating to render it graspable, knowable, visible.
  2. But also, Aramis, or The Love of Technology: A study in the form of a detective novel, following the comings and goings, the trajectories of nonexistence and existence of a transportation system in Paris. This one is an incredible food for thought, not only because of its form, but also because neglected more than human agents are granted a specific and concrete voice in the telling, perhaps in connection with the work of writer Richard Powers (I’m thinking here of Galatea 2.2, on machine learning and a computer developing a self; The Overstory, on people dealing with the deep time of trees; or my favourite, The Echomaker, where some sort of Oliver Sacks is confronted with neurological patients finally speaking back at him, disputing his use of them to write books about otherworld minds).

Beyond these experiments in writing, which Latour has been always been undertaking as someone interested in semiotics, I think there are three other passions of his that I believe are of great inspiration for anyone interested in multimodal explorations.

First, his long-time interest in diagrams, which together with Frédérique Aït-Touati and Alexandra Arènes they have been more recently developing even further (check their marvellous Terra Forma). Rather than representational devices aiming to simplify, their diagrams are tools for concept-making and abstraction, enabling to grapple with complex operations of thought: such as, the distinction between purification and translation, the drama of technical scripts, which planet we might be on, or what it might mean to come back down to Earth. Second, Latour has been invested, also together with Aït-Touati, in unfolding dramaturgical experiments. Their most recent works (the Theater of Negotiations discussed in the last chapter of Facing Gaia, or the beautiful Trilogie Terrestre) explore the mise-en-scène of the intrusions of Gaia, making them knowable and politically graspable.

But it is perhaps as a co-curator of exhibitions—or Gedankenaustellungen (thought exhibitions, a wordplay with the German word for thought experiments, as Latour and Peter Weibel called them)—that this multimodal feature is perhaps better apprehensible. Mostly in Making Things Public, which has been a tremendous inspiration for many of us: a whole exhibition exploring the Dingpolitik, that is, the new political formations, or new political architectures that should be made relevant to deal with the multi-scalar assemblies of humans and nonhumans populating our everyday life. But also in the experimentation with protocols to Reset Modernity!. More recently, after publishing Facing Gaia and Down to Earth, he also co-curated the exhibition Critical Zones, which mostly had an online life do to the pandemic, but has perhaps the most beautiful catalogue of them all.

In Critical Zones, as in all his recent work, he has been calling for the arts to step up in the ecological mutation we’re undergoing. This is perhaps nowhere more clearly stated than in his recently published On the Emergence of an Ecological Class: A Memo, together with Nicolaj Schultz. In this work, they call for the arts to have a very peculiar role in composing, equipping this new ecological class. And they do not just refer to politically-minded art, conveying aesthetically ready-made political aspirations, but rather to more speculative, art-based forms of inquiry, exploring the descriptive and affective registers to develop new sensitivities, new aesthetics that should be made relevant to compose such an ecological class. This was something he thoroughly explored, collectively, in the study program he directed at Sciences Po: The School of Political Arts.

For all of these reasons the work of Latour has been of tremendous inspiration for the recent explorations of the Stadtlabor for multimodal anthropology, developing games and other sorts of public devices. To exemplify with our research through and with games, allow me to talk a bit in closing about House of Gossip and, more recently, Waste What?, the two games we’ve prototyped so far.

Using games as media we sought to explore alternative scenographies and devices of fieldwork, where games could act as peculiar multi-sensory assemblies where we could start doing highly-specific forms of research on urban phenomena, also eliciting fieldwork materials to engage in composing diverse kinds of publics.

In House of Gossip we explored, materializing a stairway, how a community of residents could come together: immersing themselves in thinking, or remembering the predicaments of dealing with the peculiar real estate and housing market assemblages creating great troubles in contemporary urban arenas (a true crisis of habitability!), such as in Berlin and many other big European cities.

In Waste What? we have been trying to abstract and reenact—by means of a loop-based game mechanic—the attempts of different institutional and activist initiatives of the circular economy from Berlin, particularly in connection with the Haus der Materialisierung. These are trying to explore, different attempts at closing the circle: that is, thwarting and blocking the throwaway culture of our consumerist societies, engendering new forms of habitability, of inhabiting Gaia.

But these are far from the only ways in which Latour has inspired many of us interested in doing multimodal urban research and public work. Be it at the Stadtlabor, or elsewhere (in my case now in Barcelona), I’m well aware all of us will continue to think and work with Latour’s multimodal impetus for many years to come.

May this be our homage to such a joyous multimodal thinker!

games multimodal publications

Multimodal Values: The Challenge of Institutionalizing and Evaluating More-than-textual Ethnography

The last issue of the wonderful journal project entanglements: experiments in multimodal ethnography came with the sad news that they’re closing down shop. It’s perhaps telling that our call for institutionalising more-than-textual ethnography appears in that very last issue. Perhaps it symbolically means that there’s loads of work to be done for multimodality to thrive.

This is also a text that came to be published as I discovered I would be moving to greener career pastures, after many wonderful years developing the vision we here present, and that I hope I can continue to work on as associate researcher of the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology.

Many thanks to Ignacio Farías, Julia Schröder and our many collaborators in different projects for their inspiration to think together more-than-textual anthropological worlds!

The end is the beginning is the end is the beginning!


In this collective text, we introduce the vision and work of the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology at the Humboldt-University of Berlin and propose to explore the values of multimodal ethnographic projects, broadly construed. Thinking from our very explorations in multimodal production, foregrounding a concern on values is critical to share a conundrum that has been haunting us in recent times. Indeed, while engaging in various multimodal projects, we have been confronted with a predicament that we assume many multimodally-invested colleagues must have faced at some point: the problem of how to evaluate and even institutionalize multimodal anthropological projects. This question has started to become pressing when discussing our projects in different academic contexts. In what follows, we aim to expound and discuss the particular challenges of evaluating multimodal productions and thus of institutionalizing values for the multimodal. 

Keywords: valuation, ethnography, multimodality, evaluation, Institutionalization

Recommended citation: Criado, T., Farías, I. and Schröder, J. (2022). ‘Multimodal Values: The Challenge of Institutionalizing and Evaluating More-than-textual Ethnography’, entanglements, 5(1/2): 94-107 | PDF

[Klicken Sie hier für eine deutsche Version dieses Textes]

multimodal publications

Multimodale Werte: Zur Institutionalisierung mehr-als-textueller Ethnographie

[English version of this text available here]

In diesem Text wollen wir zum einen das Stadtlabor für Multimodale Anthropologie am Institut für Europäische Ethnologie der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin vorstellen und über unsere Projekte der letzten Jahre reflektieren. Zum anderen soll der Wert von mehr-als-textuellen ethnographischen Projekten diskutiert und das Spiel als multimodal-anthropologisches Format beleuchtet werden. Während in den Anthropologien, wie in anderen sozial- und kulturwissenschaftlichen Disziplinen auch, das Schreiben und der Text ausschlaggebende Wissenspraktiken- bzw. -instrumente sind, nutzt die multimodale Anthropologie bewusst eine Vielzahl von Modalitäten, um diverse sinnliche Formen der Wissensproduktion gezielt in die Forschung miteinzubeziehen. In der mehr-als-textuellen Ethnographie wird das Textuelle zu einer von vielen möglichen Formen der ethnographischen Praxis und bildet nicht dessen bestimmende Methode. Eine mehr-als-textuelle Anthropologie schafft somit neue Zugänge für die anthropologische Praxis – gleichzeitig bringt sie neue Einschränkungen und Schwierigkeiten mit sich. Im Mittelpunkt dieses Textes steht daher eine Herausforderung bzw. ein Dilemma, mit der bzw. dem wir uns bei unserer Beschäftigung mit multimodalen Ansätzen immer wieder konfrontiert sehen und welche viele unserer Kolleg*innen ebenfalls beschäftigten: Wie können mehr-als-textuelle anthropologische Projekte bewertet und institutionalisiert werden? Diese Frage hat sich bei unseren eigenen multimodalen Erkundungen immer wieder als dringlich erwiesen. Denn trotz der vielseitigen Inspirationen, die unsere jüngsten multimodalen Projekte bereitstellten, sorgen diese ebenso für Irritationen, denn auch hier blieb das Gefühl, trotz mehr-als-textlicher Werkzeuge, nicht alles erfassen, beschreiben oder festmachen zu können. Im Folgenden möchten wir die Frage nach dem ethnographischen Wert sowie die besonderen Herausforderungen bei der Auswertung multi-modaler Produktionen erläutern und diskutieren. 

Criado, T.S., Farías, I. & Schröder, J. (2022). Multimodale Werte: Zur Institutionalisierung mehr-als-textueller Ethnographie. In: I. Kölz & M. Fenske (Eds.), Lebenswelten gestalten. Neue Felder und Forschungszugänge einer Designanthropologie (pp.27-43). Würzburg:  Königshausen & Neumann Verlag | PDF

city-making experimental collaborations games materials multimodal open sourcing

House of Gossip > Open-source game developed by the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology

House of Gossip is an open-source downloadable game (developed by the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology of the HU Berlin) that stages and creates the grounds for reflection on conflicts regarding housing and the different viewpoints in a volatile real estate market.

A first prototype of the game was developed – in collaboration with colleagues at the Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik (ZK/U) – in a hackathon together with MA students of the Studienprojekt “The only game in town? Anthropology and the housing markets in Berlin” (2018-2019) at the Institut für Europäische Ethnologie (HU Berlin), and showcased in the “Open Form neu denken” exhibition (organized by Z/KU at the Werkstatt of Haus der Statistik in October 25–27 2019). In the last two years we’ve been working on creating a downloadable and playable version of it.

Image by Vasylysa Shchogoleva


Game concept (in alphabetical order): Tomás Criado, Ignacio Farías, Lena Heiss, Marie Aline Klinger, Lilian Krischer, Leonie Schipke & Tan Weigand. 

Game art by Vasylysa Shchogoleva

CC BY NC SA 2021 Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology, HU Berlin


Berlin, late 2010s, all across the city real estate is changing hands fast, the market is hot and many are investing, houses are revaluing. As it tends to happen, this situation has at least two different sides:

Scene 1

– “What about this building? Might you have found a good opportunity here?”
– “It indeed looks nice, but have we explored if it’s in good condition?”

– “The architect sent me this report, look, all clear.” – “It certainly looks promising.”
– “It’s time to act fast.”
– “Ok, yes, let’s go for this house!”

Scene 2

– “Hi, how was your day?”
– “Nothing special, yours?”
– “I heard rumours, two neighbours speaking in the corridor: the building is finally going to be bought!” – “Yes, there was a letter in the mail, look”.
– “But… What will happen to us? Will we have to move if they raise the rent?”
– “We have to do something…”
– “But we know nearly no one in the house.”

“When an apartment building is to be sold, every single alarm bell sets off for the residents. In view of the horrendous purchase prices, there is a danger of being displaced by higher rents or even conversion into condominiums.”


House of Gossip is  an open-source downloadable game that stages and creates the grounds for reflection on conflicts regarding housing and the different viewpoints in a volatile real estate market. In the game, you will have the opportunity to play either as a resident of the house or as a covert buyer, acting as one of the house’s residents.

In a process where no one can be certain about anything, gossip abounds: In the game you will have to gather information form alliances and find your way to save (as residents) or buy (as the buyer) the house! Think twice about who and when you want to share your information with!

During the course of the game you will repeatedly encounter your neighbours in the stairway to exchange gossip. Your main goal is not just to understand to whom you’re talking to, but also to perform in front of others and form alliances for one of the two competing purposes of the game: Buying or saving the house.

Those who manage to gather the necessary gossips will in the end win the game. Will the house community manage to resist or could the buyer succeed in acquiring the new property?

Download link

The game can be downloaded here.