(Re)assessing the ethno in human geography: towards a technography of concrete

Authors: Siddharth Menon*, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Topics: Field Methods, Qualitative Methods, Cultural Geography
Keywords: ethnography, methodology, more-than-human, material, concrete, technology
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Balcony B, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Ethnography has been an important methodological component of research in human geography. While its origins lay in the colonial scientific enterprise of the study of other people in their bounded natural place, its ethos has been recovered to some extent by the 1990’s ‘reflexive turn’ in the social sciences. Today, in the age of the ‘material turn’ and the ‘more-than-human turn,’ geographers continue to use the same ethnographic terminology and methods for the study of complex sociotechnical systems. In this paper, I argue that we need to (re)assess our use of this methodological process by shifting to a more appropriate technography for the analysis of quotidian objects, things and material technologies. I suggest four ideas of how such a technography might be conceived by grounding it to my research on concrete in India: multi-sited ethnographies, multilogues and relationality, affective phenomenology, and ruptures in “thick descriptions.” This methodological (re)assessment, I argue, offers another way to decolonize the discipline.

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