Multimodal Ethnography as Method for Staying True to Political Engagements and Critical Epistemologies

This roundtable brings together anthropologists whose work seeks to explore how political engagements and critical approaches to knowledge production can animate multimodal anthropologies. We are particularly excited to convene in St. Louis to directly engage the program committees provocation to reimagine our discipline as one where we act on the imperative to “bear witness, take action, and be accountable.” Drawing on multimodal methodologies the convened scholars ground these critical questions in their work with Indigenous youth activists in rural Mexico, migrant artists in urban United States, activism in favor of non-human animals along the U.S.-Mexico border, and heritage conservation and disaster management in the Philippines. Through ethnographic film, photography, and collaborative methodologies, the authors in this roundtable will grapple with questions surrounding the limits and possibilities of multimodal anthropologies and, indeed, of the anthropological imagination itself.

Echoing Samuel Gerald Collins, Matthew Durington, and Harjant Gill’s (2017) commitment to multimodality in research, pratice, and dissemination of scholarship, this roundtable accepts their “invitation to join in and be part of the multimodal movement” that will shape the discipline’s future. In order to truly be transformative for the discipline and not simply a passing fad or methodological afterthought, we believe that multimodality must be fueled by critical self-reflectivity, political commitment and action. In doing so, we commit to doing the work that the 2020 program committee’s call to action requires of us to reckon with the discipline’s dual histories of settler-colonialism and slavery. How might decolonial, anti-racist social movements push anthropology into a future where we both reckon with our disciplinary inheritance and create a more liberatory, committed, and accountable anthropology? How does multimodality open up possibilities for more equitable collaborative practice? How does multimodality create space for anthropology to embrace the uncertain and at time messy process and product of anthropology-ethnography (Varzi 2018).

Please email me any questions or proposals to Ivan Sandoval-Cervantes (ivan.sandoval-cervantes@unlv.edu) by April 30th.