The Network for Ethnographic Theory (NET) of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (https://www.easaonline.org/) is a space in which we collectively think about and experiment with new ways of conceptualizing ethnographic engagement. In particular, our objective is to explore the politics and practices of ethnographic knowing. We seek insights into the relation between the practical partiality in knowing in ethnography and theory’s presupposition of totality. We are interested in the experiences, lived, and in our notes and photographs and recordings, that are set aside because of their very partialness—perhaps not processable through the norms of academic representation—but that call into relief our theoretical frames.
At the NET we wish to rely on an enthusiasm of engagement, and push ahead, not for the sake of newness, but for the sake of need, with different ways of configuring how we know. What do people—indigenous, foreign and familial, interlocutors etc.—know? How do we know that—and how do we account for what remains unknown? At the heart of the NET is an openness of dialogue and participation, where fragmentary and unfinished thoughts get air to breathe. Across our diverse conditions of privilege and disadvantage (shaped by race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, ability, class, and professional position), together we seek ways in engaging with the limits and constraints set by conventions of ethnographic representation and academic knowledge production as we practice radical reflexivity.
In an academic environment entangled with politico-economic regimes that subscribe to the historical reproduction of multiple forms of inequality, and in a world in which truth, fakeness, and knowledge are all contested, the NET is a space in which to think about how we think, and to reconsider how we know. We seek to let this approach lead us to re(de)fine the intellectual and political project of theorization based on ethnography.
NET was founded in September 2014 with the aim to promote intellectual collaboration around the heuristic of ethnographic theory. While the initiative of the Network wholly appreciates the intellectual impetus of its founders, we are not fastened to the past. In summer 2018, the NET decided to leave behind any affiliation, formal and informal, with those people involved with the hierarchies of HAU. This is due, not only to recent ethical issues at HAU, but with the current strength of the NET to stand apart, and for ourselves. We move forward with new goals, and openness, transparency, inclusiveness, and respect for all involved in the NET.