São Paulo, Brazil / October 5-8
Hotel Tivoli


More than ever, ethnography and design are influencing and being influenced by the complex dynamics of social, economical, political and cultural flux. Drawing on the multiple connections among people, places, industries and disciplines, papers explore how ethnography and design praxis can build bridges to highlight needs, explore opportunities and share expertise. These original, rigorously peer reviewed, and meticulously developed papers are published EPIC Proceedings are the most distinguished resource for global expertise in ethnographic praxis.

Session 1: Bridging Theory and Practice
Session 2: Bridging the Present and the Future
Session 3: Bridging Methodologies
Session 4: Bridging to New Business Horizons
Session 5: Bridging to the Marketplace
Special Session: 10 Years of EPIC

Session 1

Bridging Theory and Practice
Curated by Amyris Fernandez • Fundação Getulio Vargas

The opening paper session addresses important practice and theory issues about the bridges in our work. The first paper proposes a practice change—taking fieldnotes, which have always been the private reflections of the ethnographer—and makes them public. In the end, this turns to bridging the research team with the stakeholders and the participants. The second paper proposes strategies for bridging a gap in the industrial research complex between the rich, complex world of research participants and the insight—sometimes just one bullet point—that this world gets reduced to. The third paper looks at the often-problematic relationship between corporations and academia in partnership projects. The authors suggest bridging those two kinds of institutions not by what gets produced, but by making culture changes on both sides. Finally, the fourth paper turns a mundane task of some technical grunt work in the organization and into an opportunity to do participant observation and insert customer research into the decision-making process. These gaps and relationships—ethnographer– research participants; researcher-stakeholders; corporations-academia—all involve long standing tensions that our field has taken on. This session offers exciting new perspectives on bridging old gaps.

Fieldnotes as a Social Practice: Elevating and Innovating Fieldnotes in Applied Ethnography, Using a Collaborative Online Tool as a Case Study
Maria Cury • ReD Associates

Moments of Disjuncture: The Value of Corporate Ethnography in the Research Industrial Complex
Shaheen Amirebrahimi • University of California Davis

Autonomous Vehicle Study Builds Bridges between Industry and Academia
Brigitte Jordan • Nissan Research Center & Christina Wasson • University of North Texas

Knee Deep in the Weeds—Getting Your Hands Dirty in a Technology Organization
Tiffany Romain & Mike Griffin • Ricoh Innovations

Session 2

Bridging the Present and the Future
Curated by Izabel Barros • Steelcase

This session reflects on bridges between past and future, through the eyes of ethnographers who are using understandings of today to help define and anticipate a new tomorrow. From the lenses of people in space – be it the city, virtual space, or imaginary worlds – the authors in this session show how applied ethnography advances the frontiers of knowledge for building and crossing over the bridges to our futures. The issues are complex and all papers contribute to the claim that people, with their own perceptions of self and community, should be co-designers of their own futures. From the reality of navigating a smart-city populated by a shared digital infrastructure, to using fiction as ethnographic narrative and the reality of security in cyber-space, this session builds the bridges on which new futures are built.

People—The Weak Link in Cyber-Security: Can Ethnography Bridge the Gap?
Susan Squires & Molly Shade • University of North Texas

Operationalizing Design Fiction with Anticipatory Ethnography
Joseph Lindley, Dhruv Sharma & Robert Potts • HighWire Centre for Doctoral Training, Lancaster University

Ethnographic Expertise as Visionary Catalyst of Collaboration
Jonathan Biderman

Shared Ethnography of Shared Cities
Robert Potts, Dhruv Sharma & Joseph Lindley • HighWire Centre for Doctoral Training, Lancaster University

Session 3

Bridging Methodologies
Curated by Michael Powell • Shook Kelley

This session addresses innovations in ethnographic methodology that emerge from the unique challenges, situations and contexts of professional ethnographic practice today. Specifically, it examines a set of unique combinations that bridge ethnographic work or the work of ethnographers to other, often seemingly unrelated fields, including conflict management, tangible tools and surrealism. What becomes clear in these papers is that the boundaries of ethnographic practice, as well as the professional identity of the ethnographer, are increasingly fluid and hybrid today. This state of things is not a problem to be defended, but often an opportunity to expand the field and explore new avenues. One common thread among these papers is how design can play an important role in thinking about fieldwork, not just as an outcome of ethnographic insights, but as part of the renewed imagination of ethnographic methodology, in the form ethnographic research takes as well as the actual tools developed for research. Another common thread is the “para-ethnographic” or co-creative dimension of much ethnographic work today, as more ethnographers in the field seek out like-minded clients, subjects or collaborators who want to think and behave like an ethnographer, and/or play key roles in co-creating ethnographic knowledge. These methodological insights are approached in candid and honest ways, and should generate important discussions about expanded possibilities and responsibilities for ethnographers as leaders.

Tangible Tools in Para-Ethnographic Fieldwork
Patricia Lima & Jacob Buur • Univ Southern Denmark

Enriching Ethnography in Marginalized Communities with Surrealist Techniques
Andrea Judice • University of Brasilia, Marcelo Judice • Apex Brazil & Ilpo Koskinen • Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The Missing Tool in the Design Leadership Toolbox: Integrating Conflict Management into Collaborative Design
Susana La Luz-Hawkins • Lextant

Studying Internet Connectivity in the Himalayas
Lufi Paris, Min Katrina Lieskovsky & Andrew Fiore • Facebook

Session 4

Bridging to New Business Horizons
Curated by Amanda Gross • Itaú Unibanco

This session pushes the boundaries of our work to explore how far ethnographic thinking and human centered approach can go. The papers show us a diversity of applications and new terrain for ethnography and user-centered methods in business world – certainly, they apply to NGO and public sectors also. Combined ethnographic and user-centered methods can support areas of UX research to improve the quality of user experience, an important pillar of digital business today, or even support strategy at the highest levels, shown by papers discussing the healthcare industry and small business economies. Overall, these papers show us how user-centered approaches are game changing in the business world.

From UI to UX: Building Ethnographic Praxis in a Usability Engineering Culture
Kirsten Bandyopadhyay & Rebecca Buck • Salesforce

Enabling Ethnography in Small Business Economies
Dani Cuaron, Emma Saunders & Matthew Ellingsen • Empathy

From Inspiring Change to Directing Change: How Ethnographic Praxis can Move beyond Research
Carolyn Hou & Mads Holme • ReD Associates

Redefining the Ivorian Smallholder Cocoa Farmer’s Role in Qualitative Research: From Passive Contributions to Passionate Participation
Hannah Pick • Insitum & Landry Niava • Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Côte d’Ivoire

Session 5

Bridging to the Marketplace
Curated by Rita Denny • Practica Group

These papers contemplate the individual and institutional actors whose intertwined actions are constitutive of markets. Eschewing notions of marketplace as simply a frame for trade exchange, these papers illuminate entanglements among assemblages of actors in the production of market practices and offer glimpses of the dynamics involved: Media institutions, consumers and technological forms produce what counts as “news”; management assumptions about employees form the calculus of policy; bankers’ and designers’ renderings of consumers as producers of service offerings; or the interplay between custodians, church, community and iconic small chapels in the production of an object’s value. To varying extents these papers contest or dispute prevailing notions of ‘what is’ (the news, a gift, employees, customers) and illuminate how particular actors’ epistemological assumptions about markets, employees, users, consumers, or research impact what is offered. These papers demonstrate that, at its best, an ethnographic, anthropological approach is not about uncovering or discovering; instead it succeeds by intervening and changing assumptions at multiple junctures and, as a result, demonstrates a power to inflect the marketplace.

Radical Insights: Towards a Critical Hermeneutic
Karl Mendonca • University of California Santa Cruz

The Media Landscape Under Threat: Navigating the Need for Change by Applying an Anthropological Approach
Maria Eitzinger • Danish School of Media and Journalism & University of Copenhagen

How to Create Value via Object Circulation in Gift-Systems
Daiane Scaraboto • Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile & Bernardo Figueiredo • RMIT University

Building Bridges between Management and the Workforce
Laura Ciria Suarez & Robert Andrew Bell • A Piece of Pie

Special Session: 10 Years of EPIC

Bridging Ethnography and Path-finding Business Opportunities: The Business Opportunity Canvas
ken anderson, Brandon Barnett , Peter Levin & Maria Bezaitis • Intel

A Seat at the Table of Social Change through Service Design
Jeanette Blomberg • IBM Research & Charles Darrah • San Jose State University

Knowing That and Knowing How: Toward Embodied Strategy
Simon Roberts & Tom Hoy • Stripe Partners

Goodbye Empathy, Hello Ownership: How Ethnography Really Functions in the Making of Entrepreneurs
Hiroshi Tamura, Fumiko Ichikawa & Yuki Uchida • Re:public Inc.