Research: Projects & Collective Venues

  • The picture describes a steep street from Alicante. The left part shows the sidewalk, where an older woman with her walker can be seen from behind. The middle part of the picture displays the bike infrastructures. The right part the street and parking spaces. Framing it from both sides there are 4-storey buildings.




-2023-2027. The Body and the City (PI)

Research line funded by a Ramón y Cajal fellowship (RYC2021-033410-I, Spanish National Scientific, Technical and Innovation Research Programme 2021-2023) at the Open University of Catalonia’s CareNet-IN3 group.

-2023-2024: Multimodal appreciation: Prototypes for the evaluation and institutionalisation of more-than-textual ethnography (co-PIs: Ignacio Farías, Tomás Criado, Andrew Gilbert), Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology, funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung‘s Open Up programme)

This project takes on an impossible problem. Ethnographers from across the humanities and social sciences have recently experimented with multimodal forms of description, analysis and intervention in order to grasp slippery research objects that otherwise remain outside of the apprehensible. This multimodal turn has resulted in a proliferation of more-than-textual forms that are impossible to classify and at odds with institutionalised modes of disciplinary knowledge production. Despite the important openings created by multimodal works, they are rarely seen as of equal value when compared to articles and monographs. The current situation is problematic but to a certain extent understandable, as peers, reviewers and supervisors are confronted with a complex conundrum: What criteria should be employed to evaluate such multimodal singularities? This project responds to this conundrum through two experimental moments that correspond to the two challenges producing the current impasse, those of evaluation and institutionalisation. The first moment is constituted by a set of immersive exercises designed to describe and compare the affordances of selected more-than-textual or multimodal research artefacts. The second moment is a set of prototyping exercises designed to produce and test a toolkit to facilitate the evaluation and institutionalisation of future multimodal research.

Team: Judith Albrecht, Tomás Criado, Ignacio Farías, Andrew Gilbert, and Carla J. Maier.

– 2023-2024: The practice of mountain biking in the Collserola Natural Park. A controversy mapping (PI: Albert Arias Sans), funded by the Barcelona Science Plan 2020-2023 (Recerca Jove i Emergent, 2022 – Project number: 22S09549-001)

The Collserola Natural Park (Barcelona) is a key territory guaranteeing biological metabolism and metropolitan ecosystem services. Yet, it is also one of the natural spaces with greater anthropogenic and social pressure of the region. Mountain biking is one of the most popular leisure activities allowed in the park, which contains 207km of adapted cycle tracks. However, the public debate about the Special plan for the protection of the natural environment and the landscape of the Serra de Collserola Natural Park (PEPNat) – approved in 2021 – has given rise to legal and political disputes around the restrictions on the practice of mountain biking in single-tracks and protected areas due to their the ecological values. Besides, conflicts also arose regarding the frictional coexistence with other uses with regards to the prevention plans tackling fire risks in the face of the climate emergency, among others. These manyfold disagreements, far from being a mere clash of interests between stakeholders, constitute a clear example of a sociotechnical controversy; that is, a sociopolitical context of knowledge uncertainty and political disagreement in which experts are not able to impose a technical solution. CiMColl is an in-depth analysis of the practice of mountain biking in the Collserola Natural Park, delving into the various disputes associated, in order to map the controversy (using cartographic, counter-cartographic, collaborative mapping and immersive participatory workshops). The resulting knowledge aims to nurture academic discussions around the leisure uses of natural environments, but also to contribute to the public debate so as to enhance policy-making and public management.

Team: Albert Arias Sans, Wilbert Den Hoed, Tomás Criado and Aina Molist Niubó.


-2021-2022. Trash Games — Playing with the Circular Economy Transition at the Haus der Materialisierung (PI: Vera S. Rotter, Recycling engineering, TU Berlin; Co-PI: Tomás Criado, Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology, HU Berlin – Funded by the Berlin University Alliance 2021-2022 call for Experimental Science Communication Laboratories)

The project “Trash Games: Playing with the Circular Economy Transition at the HdM” has brought together the Chair of Circular Economy and Recycling Technologies (CERT, Technische Universität Berlin) and the Stadtlabor for Multimodal Anthropology (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) to develop and explore games and game design as formats of public engagement with the Circular Economy (CE). The idea of a circular economy goes beyond current top-down efforts to achieve sustainable development by extending the life of products and the materials they contain through their reuse, repair, remanufacturing and recycling. In this project we have experimented with games as a special form of science communication enabling accessible, speculative and interactive forms of participation of non-homogeneous publics in complex topics. In cooperation with actors of the civic platform “Haus der Materialisierung” – part of the Haus der Statistik, flagship project for community-oriented neighborhood development in Berlin –, as well as other circular economy initiatives from Berlin, we undertook a several months-long research process, resulting in the prototyping of a game that explores potentials and conflicts in the social transition to a collaboratively managed circular economy.

Stadtlabor’s anthropological research and game design team: Petra Beck, Sebastian Quack, Ignacio Farías & Tomás Criado.

Main result: WASTE WHAT? An open-source game on the many ways to reuse stuff!

-2015-2018: Accessibility Values: Disability rights movements, political regulations and market devices in the design of urban democracy in Europe (Individual research project)

An ethnographic research project (involving fieldwork, interviews, and archival work) on inclusive urbanism struggles and the creation, implementation, maintenance and supervision of sidewalk democracy projects in Europe, with a focus on Barcelona and Spain. Funded by Assistant Professorship of Participatory Technology Design, Munich Center for Technology in Society & Deparment of Architecture, Technical University of Munich .

– 2012-2014. Participatory experiences in the design of independent living technologies & services (Postdoctoral project at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

An ethnographic research project on different practices of participatory & collaborative design for ‘independent living’ and urban accessibility, taking part as a member of the “En torno a la silla” design collective. Funded by: An Alliance 4 Universities postdoctoral fellowship; and the Spanish National R&D programme 2011-2014 “Political Action of Groups Concerned with the Promotion of Independent Living in Spain (EXPDEM)” (CSO2011-29749-C02-02) research project.

– 2007-2012. The logics of telecare: The fabrication of ‘connected autonomy’ in telecare for older people (PhD in Social  Anthropology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid).

The result of an ethnographic project on home telecare devices for older people in the region of Madrid (Spain), in which I focused on the practices of implementation and use of such devices & services through which certain articulations of ‘users’ as well as care relations and spaces emerged out. Funded by: FPU-UAM 2007-2011 PhD fellowship; FP7 project  2007-2010 “Ethical Frameworks for Telecare Technologies for older people at home (EFORTT)“; and Spanish National R&D programme 2008-2011 research project “Technology and attention to dependence: An analysis of the psychosocial effects of telecare’s implementation” (CSO2008-06308-C02-01/SOCI).


-2020-ongoing: xcol. An Ethnographic Inventory (co-curator)

A digital inventory—co-curated with Adolfo Estalella (Complutense University of Madrid)—for the documentation of inventive forms of ethnographic inquiry, which seeks to intervene in current forms of anthropological practice and learning.

Its initial development was funded by the Laboratory of Experimental Visual Anthropology (LAAV) of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Castilla y León, Spain (MUSAC). PIs: Adolfo Estalella & Tomás Criado.

The project received the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) ‘Making and Doing‘ Award 2021.

-2016-ongoing: Collaboratory for ethnographic experimentation — #Colleex (founder & co-convenor, 2016-2021)

#Colleex /kɒli:ɡz/ — An EASA network that aims to open a space for debate and intervention around experimental forms of ethnographic fieldwork. It seeks to explore novel forms of knowledge production for anthropology.

-2018-ongoing: Stadtlabor for multimodal anthropology, HU Berlin (Director until end of 2022, Associate Researcher since 2023)

A research platform at the HU Berlin where anthropologists interested in contemporary urban issues explore multimedia formats of knowledge production and intervention in collaboration with other urban actors. We think it is crucial to start blurring the boundaries between practices or formats of knowledge production and those of city-making. Hence, we explore conceptual, speculative and material tools, such as games or archives, to respond to the current crises of modern urbanism.

– 2023-ongoing: Red de antropología multimodal, ASAEE (member)

A network of the Spanish association of Anthropology, promoting multimodality as an anthropological practice that mobilizes various means (images, sounds, performances, etc.) to test ways of investigating, collaborating, teaching and sharing anthropological knowledge – an anthropology that learns with its ethnographic counterparts to investigate and ask relevant questions. We also conceive of multimodality as a field of inquiry itself, which indicates the cultural importance of various forms of mediation and remediation: where in short, multimodality opens up a space for experimentation and reinvention for an expanded sensory, political and epistemologically expanding anthropology.

– 2022-2025: Digital Curatorial Collective, Cultural Anthropology website (co-curator)

The DCC is comprised of an international team of anthropologists working at the cutting edge of multimodal ethnography. Over the next three years, the DCC will develop a “concept studio” to emphasize the work that the multimodal advances in the discipline.

As a collaborative and conceptual space, the studio will draw together multimodal initiatives across institutions, practices and ethnographic arts as a nexus for a world of anthropologies. The concept studio is thus a meeting and mediating point between an anthropology concerned with production as a model and one that experiments with the sensorial complexities of the more-than-human world. Accessibility provides a model for reflexive, problem-based work that does not prescribe form or content.

The members of the collective are (alphabetically): Joella Bitter, Tomás Criado, Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan, Megan Gette, Andrew Gilbert, Marina Peterson, Jesse Weaver Shipley, and Leniqueca Welcome.