CoLED extends a heartfelt thanks to all those who attended and sponsored our first CoLED conference, ETHNOGRAPHY & DESIGN: MUTUAL PROVOCATIONS. The conference was hosted at UC San Diego on October 27-29, 2016. The conference represents the culmination of the first phase of our multi-campus collaboration 2015-2016, and offered a public-facing three-day-long symposium and workshop series designed to open the CoLED conversation to a broader crowd of ethnographers, designers, practitioners, and scholars at the intersection of ethnography and design.

About the Conference Theme

In recent years, design and ethnography, and practitioners of design and ethnography, have found a variety of new engagements and mutual provocations. Many ethnographers work in collaboration with designers and design researchers. Others are curious about how designers have taken up, made use of, and transformed ethnographic research strategies to gain insights into how to redesign objects, infrastructures, and social or institutional systems. Many academic ethnographers see design practice as complicit with global capitalism, industrialized manufacturing, consumer product marketing, and modern nation-building. Still others are interested in how ethnographic practice might be transformed by an engagement with studio design, bringing some of the research modes and strategies developed in design research back into the service of academic research. Many ethnographers are interested in innovations in research design that engage new media and frontiers in digital, visual, and performative formats. At the core, the conference engages with what our collaboratory has come to call ethnographic design: the ethical and political stakes of ethnographic method and form.

Ethnography and Design: Mutual Provocations brings ethnographers working in all of these modes together for a series of curated, provocative conversations. Addressing issues in ethnographic design through a “keywords” format, the conference and subsequent multimedia production will ask: What is Ethnography? What is Design? Who decides? What are the implications for theory, practice, and real world outcomes?

Feedback from Conference Attendees

See what people were tweeting in real time on the conference Storify!

“This was truly an exceptional get together– so different from most boring academic meetings. The panels built on each other so well, and I kept having to change my own paper in response to the stimulating provocations from all the speakers. Excellent!”

“I particularly liked the innovative format, which gave us all time to really have conversations, as well as to enjoy the more playful creative workshops.”

“A terrific success – I loved the freshness of the research and ideas that were shared.”

“We desperately need more events and forums like this, that bring a diversity of folks together to talk about themes close to the cutting-edge of current research and dissemination practices.”

“Playful joyful conferences like these need to happen more often.”

“This conference really cemented relations and discussions we have been having for the last two years, and posed some critical questions. I feel we are reaching a turning point, where new thinking is taking place.”

Download the conference flyer in PDF format here.

ETHNOGRAPHY & DESIGN: MUTUAL PROVOCATIONS will take place at UC San Diego on October 27-29, 2016. The conference is open to students, faculty, working ethnographers, and the general public. Space is limited, and workshop participation will be capped at appropriate numbers.

General registration to attend the conference is now open. Please register here.

There is a nominal, tiered registration fee to cover organization, programming, and lunch. The fee will be waived for those attendees who are selected to present a workshop or session as part of the conference program. Session proposals can be submitted for consideration until July 15th.

The main conference venue is the Great Hall at iHouse on the UCSD campus.

Recommended conference hotels are the Marriott San Diego La Jolla (a short shuttle ride and walk from the venue) and Estancia La Jolla Hotel (walking distance from the venue).

Getting around: Visit the interactive conference map to find parking, conference venues, and nearby eateries, with links to the conference program and Google Maps directions.

A still graphic from an interactive google map is also a link to the live map.

Registration to attend the conference is now open! Register here. Explore the Conference Program using our online tool.

Conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in experience a variety of sessions. The CoLED conference committee strives to program conference sessions that take up and theorize the ways in which negotiations between design practice and ethnographic methods offer themselves as  experimental forms of engagement, techniques of knowing, and proposals for interacting with the world.

Session formats include:

  • installation
  • performance
  • workshop
  • lab / makerspace
  • film screening
  • masterclass in practice & pedagogy techniques
  • et cetera

As a research network, CoLED fosters a supportive and playful environment in which graduate students and faculty can engage in speculative and experimental modes of thinking and doing. We are, by design, resistant to “traditional” modes of academic exchange, and will privilege submissions that offer interactive modes of sharing and exploring methodologies through movement, performance, media, and experimentation.

Conference attendees will find sessions programmed according to the following list of interwoven themes:

Proposals for individual and group workshops are closed. However, organizations interested in collaborating with the conference committee to present a co-sponsored special event during the conference are invited to get in touch directly. Contact Cassandra Hartblay at with “Mutual Provocations CfP” in the subject line.

Register here or follow along on Twitter and Facebook #CoLEDConf!


Invited Speakers

Wendy Gunn, University of Southern Denmark/Denmark

Lochlann Jain, Stanford University/CA

Alberto Corsín Jiménez, El Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales/Spain

Ton Otto, Aarhaus University/Denmark

Greg Pierotti, Tectonic Theatre Project/USA

Peter Redfield, University of North Carolina/NC

Shalini Shankar, Northwestern University/IL

Nitzan Shoshan, Colegio de México/Mexico

Audra Simpson, Columbia University/NY

Lucy Suchman, Lancaster University/UK

Ilya Utekhin, European University St Petersburg/Russia

Sasha Welland, University of Washington Seattle/WA


Presenting CoLED Members

Hannah Appel, UCLA

Marisol de la Cadena, UC Davis

Melissa Caldwell, UC Santa Cruz

Elizabeth Chin, Art Center College of Design/CA

Fernando Domínguez Rubio, UC San Diego

Joe Dumit, UC Davis

Cristiana Giordano, UC Davis

Joseph Hankins, UC San Diego

Cassandra Hartblay, UC San Diego

Lilly Irani, UC San Diego

Roshanak Kheshti, UC San Diego

Kristina Lyons, UC Santa Cruz

George Marcus, UC Irvine

Michael Montoya, UC Irvine

Keith Murphy, UC Irvine

Karen Nakamura, UC Berkeley

Nancy Postero, UC San Diego

Christo Sims, UC San Diego

Elana Zilberg, UC San Diego

Explore the Conference Program now using our online tool.

Download a PDF version of the Conference Welcome Packet.

About the Conference Format

The conference is structured around a series of roundtable events, with ongoing concurrent participatory workshops and performances. In keeping with the conference theme of mutual provocations between design and ethnography, the roundtables are be organized as a series of encounters between keywords (see the Invited Speakers tab for a list of scholars presenting keywords). We  do so with the intention that the juxtapositions between the words will provoke discussion by highlighting tensions that populate the intersection of design and ethnography.

Concurrent with the roundtables, CoLED members and invited guests will host workshops to share innovations in ethnographic theory and methodology. These workshops have been debuted and examined with CoLED members during the course of a series of internal workshops leading up to the conference; the intention of the conference workshops is to share the work of CoLED with other conference attendees. The CoLED Conference Committee is also pleased to present workshops, labs, and artworks selected from a competitive pool of proposals from scholars external to our network (the Call for Submissions closed in July, and notifications were sent in August).

The detailed conference program is now available online. We encourage conference goers and prospective attendees to explore the features of the scheduling tool, including building your own custom schedule and view the program by venue, time, or programmatic theme. In the coming weeks, conference participants who have registered will have the opportunity to sign up to attend workshops with a capped participation level.

Workshops, Labs & Events 

Bodily and Theatrical Devising – Cristiana Giordano (UCD), Greg Pierotti (UCD/Tectonic Theatre Project), and Ugo Edu (UCSF)

Training Feeling: Re-tuning Collective Improvisations – Sarah McCullough, Joe Dumit, Duskin Drum, Kevin O’Connor (UCD)

Spotify in the Field: Digital Ethnography – Amy Kennemore (UCSD)

Experiments in Teaching Ethnography – Elana Zilberg and Christina Aushana (UCSD)

Ethnocharette: What’s That? – Keith Murphy (UCI)

Searching for #Solidarities: Digital Ethnography – Joan Donovan (UCLA) and Tom Boellstorff (UCI)

Political Fictions – Fernando Dominguez Rubio (UCSD) and Marisol de la Cadena (UCD)

Research as Healing – Connie McGuire, Katie Cox, and Michael Montoya (UCI)

Materializing Spatial Dispossession  – Erin McElroy (UCSC/Anti-Eviction Mapping Project)

Ethno-locating: Activating Human Infrastructure in Urban Design – Adonia Lugo (Cal State LA/Bicicultures)

Altered Visions: Constructing Cameras from Found Objects – Caity Fares (The Art Institute of California San Diego)

Co-designing Graphic Novels for Refugee Mental Health Work – Brian Goldfarb (UCSD), Sahra Abdi (United Women of East Africa), John Kuek (La Maestra Community Health), Riley Taitingfong, Murktarat Yussuf, and Sol D’Urso (UCSD)

Surveillance: Sensorship Lab for Field Techniques – Erika Barbosa (Art Center College of Design)

Experimenting with Money Objects and Repertoires Lab – Ursula Dalinghaus and Mrinalini Tankha (UCI)

Sensory Ethnography Writing Lab – TBA

Devising Scores for Ethnography Lab – Joe Dumit and Collaborators (UC Davis)

Lunchtime Lab 1: Ethnography and/in industry

Threeing: Incorporating “Relational Circuits” into the Ethnographic Encounter –

Karl Mendonca (UCSC/Goodreads) and Morgan Russell (Goodreads)

Transitioning from Academia to Industrial Ethnography –

Sharma Hendel (Adobe Design), David Platzer (Johns Hopkins/Adobe Design)

Lunchtime Lab 2: Games

Terra Incognita Game – Javier Arbona (UCD)

Analog Games as Ethnographic Practice – Jonathan Walton (UCSD)


Performances and Artworks

Ethnography and the Arts: Reports from the mediated field

This pop-up exhibition presents ethnographic projects that engage deeply with arts practices. By working with ideas and techniques from sculpture, performance, sound composition, experimental film and video, and photography, these ethnographic projects explore possibilities for reflexive, speculative, activist, collaborative and community-based ethnography.

Yelena Gluzman, curator

Artworks and Media Ethnography by Roshanak Kheshti (UCSD), Caity Fares (The Art Institute of California San Diego), Vera Khovanskaya (Cornell University), Christian Doll (UCD), Erin McElroy (UCSC), and others

Thursday, October 27th, 6:30-8:00pm

Ishi: The Archive Performance

Performance by James Luna (Pooyukitchchum/Ipai) with Jeneen Frei Njootli (Vuntut Gwitchin) and special guest Tracy Lee Nelson (Luiseno/Diegueno)

The Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre
Thursday the 26th at 2pm
Friday the 27th at 7:30 pm

ETHNOGRAPHY & DESIGN: MUTUAL PROVOCATIONS is delighted to list this event, payed for by the California Native American Day committee, and other sources of funding, as part of our conference programming. RSVP at or contact Julie Burelle for more information.





Preliminary Conference Schedule

A dynamic, detailed version of the conference schedule is available here. Download a digital version of the welcome packet (PDF), including a two-page schedule of events.  The below summary is provided for those seeking a quick overview.

Thursday, Oct 27


Conference attendees and invited guests arrive and check into hotel

2pm – Afternoon events at main conference venue:

welcome table – pick up your conference packet and name badge

workshop, and happenings

5pm – Conference Opening and Welcome Address

Opening Plenary Roundtable session, followed by Wine Reception (Cash Bar, 21+ only)

Exhibition Opening, “Ethnography & the Arts: Reports from the mediated field”

(Great Hall @ iHouse)


Friday, Oct 28



Workshops (classrooms and black box theaters)


Keyword Roundtable Sessions (Great Hall @ iHouse)

Concurrent workshops (classrooms and black box theaters)


Lunch (Great Hall @ iHouse)

Concurrent Lunchtime Lab I: Ethnography & Industry


Keyword Roundtable Sessions (Great Hall @ iHouse)

Concurrent workshops (classrooms and black box theaters)


“ISHI” Performance by James Luna in the Shank Theatre at the UCSD Theatre District


Saturday, Oct 29


Keyword Roundtable Sessions (Great Hall @ iHouse)

Concurrent workshops (classrooms and black box theaters)


Lunch (Great Hall @ iHouse)

Concurrent Lunchtime Labs: Formal Play/Ethnographic Games, and Experiments in Teaching Ethnographic Methods


Concurrent workshops (classrooms and black box theaters)


Keyword Roundtable Sessions (Great Hall @ iHouse)


Plenary Closing Roundtable (Great Hall @ iHouse)


Closing Reception (Great Hall @ iHouse)


Sunday, Oct 30



A detailed conference program including a personal schedule building tool is online here.

Ethnography and Design: Mutual Provocations is made possible through funding from the UC Office of the President, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and participating UC campuses.

Find us on Twitter! #CoLEDConf #CoLED or watch the Storify slideshow!