Online Collaborations @VirtualOtherwise 2022
When I am working with master's students, I often hear myself or my colleagues praising the importance of establishing good relations with collaborators in the field. Research quality, we usually add, reflects the ability to ground inquiry on an open and trusting relationship.
Consequently (and even though plenty of stories of misunderstanding abound), anthropologists are usually proud of their ability to overcome initial field awkwardness – successful collaboration with their interlocutors a sign of forthcoming high-quality research output. It therefore baffles me sometimes to look at collaboration with other fellow researchers and see it less recognized or formally acknowledged than that ‘out in the field’.
Much of my work as a postdoc for the Food Citizens? Project has been about finding ground to develop research at the collaboration intersections between other team members, with these relations a driver in fine-tuning and syncing ideas in the project i-doc. The importance of how each researcher's footprint affects the other's research was the object of the multimodal presentation I made for the Virtual Otherwise online conference in early June. I presented the Disjunction and Reverberations panel with Adam Fleischmann, Mónica Cuellár Gempeler, Alonso Gamarra, and Atoq Ramón. The panel addressed the gaps and overlapping instances between the virtual and material across our field experiences.
The presentations also explored the possibilities and potentials of collaboration in bridging the virtual and material, the panel's strength emerging through the shared thinking-through of the transformation that knowledge undergoes in its circulation between people and media, generations and places. As the conversation after the panel highlighted, the end result was even more appealing because the panelists had collaborated on multiple, different, previous occasions - their take on collaboration nurtured by actual efforts to work and think together. It was really just an excuse to come back and work together again.
All contributions reverberated with the importance of collaborating and building on each other’s feedback. Welcoming the role of other anthropologists into our ethnographies is a means to find a way of basing our practices on nurturing multiple and enriching types of collaborations.