The Ethnography Working Group of the Cultural Studies Association invites submissions for the 16th Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association (U.S.), to be held at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 31-June 2, 2018.

We invite submissions from scholars, activists, and artists who engage ethnography as method and theory, at any stage in their work. Submissions may take one of three forms: paper, panel proposal, or roundtable participant proposal. We likewise welcome creative or artistic interventions that do not take the form of the traditional conference paper. 

Ethnography Working Group General Call:

The Ethnography Working Group investigates the intersection between cultural studies and the ethnographic method. We are interested in the theory and practice of ethnographic research, and its intersections with the field of cultural studies. In our 2018 general call, the Ethnography Working Group invites scholars, artists, and activists to submit proposals for individual or collaborative papers, pre-constituted panels, or workshops and skill-shares (praxis workshops).

Ethnography Working Group Theme Call:  Interventions

PANEL: “Opening the Taboo: Struggles of Ethics and Access Between Field and Academy”

The Ethnography Working Group invites submissions that examine how ethnographers navigate the space between the field and the academy. We welcome interventions that address how ethnographers encounter, understand, and represent the ethical space that lies between the field and the academy. Additionally, we invite reflection on the particular challenges that ethnographers face as fieldworkers and as scholars and what cultural studies offers towards ethical ethnographic intervention.      

Presentations can be narrowly focused on particular case studies or broadly methodological, even philosophical, in scope. We aim to create a panel balanced between the micro and macro dimensions of ethnography.

Key questions might include, but are by no means limited to:           

  • How does the ethnographer approach the space between the academy and the field? How have ethnographers historically understood this space?
  • How does ethnographic work mediate between the academy and the field? What are some of the practical or theoretical challenges that characterize this role?
  • What new or creative ethnographic interventions and ethical considerations are needed at our particular moment – here in the United States as well as globally? What does the intersection of cultural studies and ethnography offer for intervening in the present moment?

We welcome papers or other creative works, including artistic, that explore the struggles of ethnographers working in the political area of cultural studies when weighing ethics and access between the field and the academy.

Questions for consideration in light of the theme of interventions this year include:

·      How does the ethnographer grapple with the ethics of presence as intervention?

·      How does the ethnographer balance the agendas of the academy and subjects, or have knowledge of and process respective agendas?

·      Where lies mutuality of impact for the ethnographer as border dweller between the field and the academy, and are there interventions that might enhance healthy mutuality as well as minimize destructive impact?

·      As ethnographers, how do we face the fierce urgency of now and our role in the larger cultural studies movement between the field and the academy under the impact of ongoing climate change?

Roundtable Discussion: Doctoral Student Forum

The Ethnography Working Group invites students at any stage of their doctoral program who are considering the use of, or who are now employing, ethnographic methods to participate in a roundtable discussion. Key topics of discussion might touch on methodological, theoretical, or personal themes. We hope to generate an informal discussion around the challenges and rewards that ethnographic practice and theory offer us as scholars in cultural studies. The roundtable will include experienced ethnographers as participants.

Please submit a proposal of 300-500 words describing your research or creative interests, your practice as an ethnographer, and questions you’d like to raise for discussion, in addition to anything else you’d like to address in the roundtable discussion.

Process of Submission

Please submit a 300-500-word abstract for the panel AND/OR for the roundtable discussion no later than March 10, 2018 through the Cultural Studies Association’s Easy Chair system.

Submission of proposals is limited to current CSA members, but new members are welcome. 

Travel Grants

Travel grants are available for partial reimbursement to graduate and advanced undergraduate students who planning to present.


Contact Ethnography Working Group Chair Michelle Walsh, (please put CSA CFP in the subject line)

The Ethnographic Working Group investigates how the ethnographic method can continue to shed light onto the field of Cultural Studies, as well discussing the practice of ethnographic research. As a working group, we are a resource for each other and those interested in ethnographic methods. We look to discuss and debate best ethics and practices, such as how to store and document research, navigate IRB, HSRB, and other institutional review boards, negotiate certain field sites, and conduct interviews.

We see the ethnographic research method as collaborative cultural work. The researcher and those researched are both participants in attempting to understand the cultural landscape laying before them. How does the presence of the researcher impact the communities we are investigating? In turn how do these communities shape our own understanding of what constitutes “research”?

We are interested in all type of ethnographic research such as: community-based ethnographies, auto-ethnographies, critical ethnography, feminist ethnography, and performative-ethnographies. Furthermore, the working group would like to explore creative and non-traditional approaches to the creation and dissemination of ethnographies in the field of Cultural Studies. The Ethnographic Working Group is open to new members who are invested or interested in exploring ethnographic methods. The group meets annually at the Cultural Studies Association Conference. We plan on hosting reading groups, roundtable discussions, and panels.

Join this working group!