Case Studies, Papers, and PechaKuchas are the heart of the EPIC program, taking us under the hood of the latest projects, frameworks, methods, and challenges in ethnographic practice. Each format is a unique approach to exposition and evidence. Our independent Program Committees invite proposals through an open Call for Participation in January–March, and carry out a competitive, anonymous peer review process to select these presentations.

Find the schedule for your region here. Attendees can watch missed sessions in Terra, the EPIC2021 virtual world.

Case Studies

Peer-reviewed case studies showcase ethnographic impact: what we did, how we did it, why it mattered, and how organizations and clients calibrate the value of the work. They take us “under the hood” of challenging work across private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Full-length, written Case Studies are published in the EPIC Proceedings.

Anticipating Civic Needs and Skills

COVID-19 was a catalyst for rethinking the future of workers and public service providers. Across countries and contexts, researchers needed to understand the changing landscape of labor. These case studies demonstrate how researchers have anticipated new worker realities.

Oct 19, 4:00 pm San Francisco / Oct 20, 10:00 am Sydney

Anticipating Needs: How Trauma-Informed Research During COVID-19 Changed Our Everyday Work
Meredith Hitchcock, Airbnb
Sadhika Johnson, Airbnb

Human Skills as Essential Skills: Preparing Low-Skilled Job Seekers for Inclusion in the Future Economy
Minnar Xie, Blueprint
Ebony Bertorelli, Blueprint

Reconnecting with the Public
Lok Yi Lee, Brandnographer
Lyra Jiang, Brandnographer

Designing Emergent Products and Services

Ethnographers must use insights about the consumers of current products and services in order to anticipate future ones. In this session, researchers demonstrate how they do this such diverse contexts as immersive media, virtual primary care, and future vehicles.

Oct 20, 8:00 am San Francisco / 4:00 pm London

Building for the Future, Together: A Model for Bringing Emerging Products to Market, Using Anticipatory Ethnography and Mixed Methods Research
Stefanie Hutka, Adobe, Inc.

Anticipating the Arrival of a Clean-Sensitive Driving Future
Annicka Campbell-Dollaghan, Rightpoint Consulting
Omer Tsimhoni General Motors
Edward Gundlach, General Motors
Camille Sharrow-Blaum, Rightpoint Consulting
Ashlynn Denny, Rightpoint Consulting

Designing Virtual Primary Health Care
Marie Mika, Grand Rounds, Inc.
Arvind Venkataramani, Grand Rounds, Inc.

Wellbeing in the Future

Retooling ethnographic inquiry during the pandemic, researchers worked with corporate, governmental, and community stakeholders to anticipate the future of hygiene and shape sensitive governmental crisis-response strategies.

Oct 21, 9:00 am London / 7:00 pm Sydney

The Future of Hygiene: Constructing Expansive Futures
Siddharth Kanoria, Quantum Consumer Solutions
Dimitri Berti, Quantum Consumer Solutions
Christi Kobierecka, Unilever

Anticipating the Unanticipated: Ethnography and Crisis Response in the Public Sector
Christina Cheadle, Stripe Partners
Hannah Pattinson, Surrey County Council

Papers

Peer-reviewed papers offer syntheses or frameworks that drive innovation and debate in ethnographic practice. They address issues and challenges that bridge our varied contexts and organizations, and advance core ethnographic principles. Full-length, written Papers are published in the EPIC Proceedings.

Methods of the Future

This session examines how we leverage the natively digital spaces where our participants live, work, and play. The authors look at these systems with a critical, informed eye on the context, and on ourselves, to offer methodological innovations that maintain ethnographic integrity.

Oct 19, 8:00 am London / 6:00 pm Sydney

Building Target Worlds
Markus Rothmüller, Bridgemaker GmbH

Anticipating Future (UX) Design Practice
Mette Kjærsgaard, Institute for Design and Communication
Jacob Buur, University of Southern Denmark
Wafa Said Mosleh, University of Southern Denmark

Feature versus Future: Anticipating Musical Futures in an Online Present
Iveta Hajdakova, Stripe Partners

Seeing New Futures

How do we innovate for the future without understanding the past? How do we simultaneously prevent the past from locking us into just reproducing what we’ve already experienced? The papers in this session span theory to practice, all in service of unleashing a better unknown, but through the structure of controlled methods.

Oct 19, 10:00 am San Francisco / 6:00 pm London

Information Seeking across Cultures
Jennifer Zamora, Google

Leveraging Speculative Design to Re-imagine Product Roadmaps
Sanya Attari, Facebook
Charley Scull, Facebook
Mahboobeh Harandi, Syracuse University

Anticipating Headwinds: Using Cultural Tacking and Narrative Navigation to Build an Inclusive Future
Katie Sieck, AgencyAgile

Ownership of Ideas

A digitally connected world ostensibly signifies “progress” and “betterment”—but for whom exactly, and in what ways? In this session, we consider how ideas that lead to progress can be better situated within communities, and how anthropology  supports communities that originate ideas to continue to be stewards, even within the context of the instantaneous and digital sharing.

Oct 20, 3:00 pm San Francisco / Oct 21, 9:00 am Sydney

Weaving Textile Futures: Indigenous Resistance and Intellectual Property
Amapola Rangel Flores, University of the Americas Puebla

Cities as Anticipatory Systems: Analyzing “Weak Signals” to Explore beyond the Predictability of Their Future
Nora Morales, UAM Cuajimalpa
Salomon Gonzalez, UAM Cuajimalpa

Communities

Oct 21, 8:00 am London / 6:00 pm Sydney

The emic position is an ethnographic tradition, fraught with contradictions of the multiple perspectives brought to bear on the interpretation of culture. Ethnographers in this session call upon us all to examine how ethnography can truly embrace the communities it watches. These authors show us that where and how the emic tradition can be brought forth, reinvented, and invigorated.

Reimagining Livelihoods: An Ethnographic Inquiry into Anticipation, Agency, and Reflexivity as India’s Impact Ecosystem Responds to Post-pandemic Rebuilding
Gitika Saksena, LagomWorks
Abhishek Mohanty, LagomWorks

Empowering Communities: Future-making through Citizen Ethnography
Sophie Goodman, Sophie Goodman Research
Dr. Monty Badami, Habitus

Adding Aspiration to Anticipation: Building Ethical Models for Future Social Change
Annette Markham, RMIT University

Power and Publics

Future visions are products of their locations. But what if those visions are crafted at the periphery and not at the centre? This session decenters visioning, to explore futures from those often silenced, and to highlight ways of doing this decentering.

Oct 21, 3:00 pm San Francisco / Oct 22, 9:00 am Sydney

Deconstructing Imperialism in Technology
Toluwa Awodiya, SurveyMonkey

Come to Your Senses: Ethnography of the Everyday Futuring
Rebekah Park, Gemic
Jana Jevtic, Gemic

Futures in Things: Locating the Promise of Infrastructures in Public Libraries
Sanndjar Kozubaev, Georgia Institute of Technology
Carl DiSalvo, Georgia Institute of Technology

PechaKucha

This unique storytelling format combines visual and spoken narratives. Selected through peer review, presentations explore ethnography and professional issues in pithy, provocative, or poignant ways.

Alternative Methods

What does it mean to use creative methods in our research? From which techniques and toolboxes do we begin, if we want to anticipate the toolbox for our future practice? How can we incorporate alternative methods, paying attention to feelings as well as facts? In this panel, authors become bricoleurs who put their assumptions about knowledge creation on hold in order to explore a range of unexpected sources.

Oct 19, 3:00 pm San Francisco / Oct 20, 9:00 am Sydney

Our Advocacy Practice for Their Change

Amanda Rosenberg, Workday

Intuition Thinking through Loopholes

Laura Reiss, Independent

Honoring Children as Participants
Chloe Chang, Open Box Design
Vinay Kumar Mysore, Open Box Design

Framing Devices

These presentations share a productive commitment to storytelling as a way to address what is uncertain or even risky. They dig deep into the ways that stories—and critically, the way stories are told—can have great bearing on how we anticipate and create futures.

Oct 20, 10:00 am London / 8:00 pm Sydney

Wine, Bacon and Periods: Changing Supermarket Categories, Changing the World
Jennie Leng, Independent

Who Deserves to Be Observed? Wrestling with the Avant-Garde
Letizia, Nardi, InProcess
Lola Billaud, InProcess

Storytelling as Research: Anticipating the Unthinkable
Sarah Heffernan, Sarah Heffernan Design

Decentering the Human

These presentations call on us to think beyond the human-centered approaches that are now so well-received and much-loved. They offer alternative lenses on the whole environment—of which human are just a part—at a time when so much of the world is at stake.

Oct 20, 10:00 am San Francisco / 6:00 pm London

Microbes that Matter
Carrie Yury, Fjord

On Being Well in a Time of Hell
Chloe Evans, Spotify
Mira Shah, Spotify
Camie Steinhoff, Spotify

Hands Are People Too: Reflections on the Value of Hands (and How to Study Them) from Ethnographic Research to Inform the Development of Haptic Technology
Maria Cury, RED Associate
Kahyun Sophie Kim, Facebook Reality Labs

Psychology: The Ballast in Anthropology’s Ship
Ben Doepke, IX

Imagining Futures / Retrospective Futures

The PechaKuchas in this session go beyond peering into our futures—they unsettle long-standing truisms about what it means to be human, as bodies and beings in space and time. Presenters offer new and even experimental approaches to understanding what a future might look like when we reimagine bodies and senses.

Oct 21, 8:00 am San Francisco / 4:00 pm London

Do Not Fear Mistakes
Katherine Metzo, Lowes

Ethnographic Fiction: Exploring Bio-technological Possibilities through a Retrospeculative Lens
Oshin Siao Bhatt, Design Academy Eindhoven

Holidays and the Anticipation of Ritual
Rob Murray, IBM