EPISTEMOLOGY OF EVERYDAY LIFE

 

Epistemology of Everyday Life Learning Community approaches the knowledge of humanity from anthropological, historical and philosophical perspectives. This interdisciplinary, yet common focus allows the students to broaden the frames of humanities’ knowledge beyond the disciplines they study. In the anthropological part, the initial focus is on digital and sensory approaches to the everyday, as well as new methodological approaches (such as computational and big data ethnography, sensory walking, ethnography on a distance). In the historical part we analyze the history of the cultural encounters generated by the European colonial expansion in the early modern period (such as the criollismo in Latin America). The philosophical part brings forward concepts such as the Other, the stranger, morality and critically reflects them through some of the key texts. In the final part of the Eutopia learning unit, at the Students’ Open Forum, participants present their own (ongoing) research and rethink it through the epistemological contexts of the three disciplines. The Forum also encourages the students to actively collaborate with each other, forming the ties across the partner universities.

Learning Community Activities

Coming up


The next activity from this community will be starting up again in October 2022. Keep a look out here for more information in the coming months.

Past activities

The Learning Unit created by this Connected Learning Community for the academic year 2021-2022 consisted of three parts, briefly elaborated on below.

PART 1:
Building of learning community, experimenting digital and sensory ethnography (October 28 and 29, 2021) which was led by prof. Rajko Muršič (University of Ljubljana).

This was delivered in a series of blended and practical classes where students covered the following:

a. Ethnography on a distance, Thursday, October 28, 13:00-16:10, CET
The aim of the first part of the blended practical classes is to try, reflect and discuss ethnographic work from a distance, as students had to practice during the pandemic, and a way of working that will remain one of the most important methodological tools in ethnographic practice. Rajko Muršič and Dan Podjed briefly presented methods and topics, and students then did a distant fieldwork exercise: i.e. making calls to previously informed societal actors who were ready to communicate with the student researcher. After the intensive communication, the student-researchers wrote short memos/reflections, and presented them to other students discussing their experiences with others, and critically reflecting on the merits and limitations of available smartphone applications for distance research.

b. Individual blended sensory walk, Friday, October 29, 9:40-13:00, CET
Is it possible to experience everyday environment completely anew? With this exercise, students tested an individual sensory walk, using smart phones and various other storage devices (sound recorder, video camera, etc.). Following a short introduction about sensory walks as a qualitative research method (by Rajko Muršič), the students went for a walk in their own spaces place, whilst being open to all kinds of sensory experience while walking (sounds, sights, odours, things to touch or taste …). With the use of digital devices, they recorded the experience (visual and aural) and then later presented the reasons for these captured moments to other students.

c. Challenging big data: Orange as an analytical tool*, Friday, October 29, 14:40-16:10 CET
Dr Ajda Pretnar Žagar demonstrated how to conduct ethnographic work with big data and how to use computational methods to answer anthropological questions. She will present two use cases, one with analysis of Twitter data and the other with analysis of Instagram images. All examples were demonstrated with the analytical software Orange, developed at the University of Ljubljana.

d. Ethics in digital research, Friday, October 29, 16:20-18:00 CET
Discussion on ethical limits in digital ethnographic research: Rajko Muršič, Ajda Pretnar Žagar, Dan Podjed, Ana Svetel and all student participants.

PART 2:
Ethnography and Cultural Encounters, 1492-1750, November 17 and December 1, 2021 - Led by prof. Alexandre Coello de la Rosa (Pompeu Fabra University)


This activity included a lecture followed by a presentation and discussion of the assigned readings. It took place on the Collaborate platform.

The aim of the course that the activity was based on is to analyse the history of the cultural encounters generated by the European colonial expansion in the early modern period (16th-18th centuries), with an emphasis on the production of ethnographic knowledge, literary and visual. The course adopts a global comparative perspective, taking account of the various contexts of such encounters in Africa, Asia, America and the Pacific. The course will emphasize the overseas empires of Spain and Portugal, but will also include materials generated by the Dutch, French and British commercial and colonial experiences. Each seminar will explore a distinct theme and will involve the contextual analysis of a variety of ethnographic sources. Four key questions will constitute a thread throughout the sessions: the problem of cultural perception and (mis)translation; the ideals, practices and contradictions of religious missions; the complex nature of colonial and imperial power; and the paradoxical development of universalist and cosmopolitan ideas.


PART 3:
'The Stranger', December 7 and December 16, 2021, led by prof. Marc Van den Bossche (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)


This activity included lectures followed by discussions of the assigned readings. It took place on MS Teams.

a. Stranger, Tuesday, December 7, 2021, 18.00-20.00 CET
The question of the stranger. Students discussed the classic texts by Georg Simmel and Alfred Schütz. Students were asked to reflect on how Bauman translates their vision to our current dealings with the stranger? This was followed by a look at Sara Ahmed's critique of and additions to Bauman's thinking.

b. Morality, Thursday, December 16, 2021, 18.00-20.00 CET
Bauman's critique of modernity includes a revision of the conception of a kind of morality that would be bound to a specific social context. He wants to search for a universal morality that even precedes thought. Students across the universities compare this vision in a cross-campus setting with that of Judith Butler in her ‘Precarious Life’.


Concluding Event: Open Student Forum 

The Connected Learning Community’s activities were concluded with Student Open Forum event held online on January 27th. The final study activity within the EUTOPIA Learning Unit Epistemology of Everyday Life 2021/22, took place in the form of short presentations. Some of the students synthesized various theoretical and epistemological approaches, presented earlier through the lectures, workshops and practical classes of the Learning Unit. Furthermore, students reflected and re-assesed their own ethnographic work and anthropological positions in the light of the newly accessed knowledge.
See the programme.

How to get involved?

(Students and educators)
Contact the EUTOPIA curriculum team: Jo Angouri (J.Angouri@warwick.ac.uk) and Karen Triquet (karen.triquet@vub.be).

Learning Community Members

Lead: Rajko Muršič (UL). Email: rajko.mursic@ff.uni-lj.si

Rajko Muršič is a professor of ethnology/cultural anthropology at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Dept. of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology. His research focuses on the anthropology of popular music, theories of culture, epistemology, urban anthropology, methodology of anthropological research, sensory studies, etc. He published eight monographs (all in Slovene) and co-edited nine collections (six in English). He was the initial editor of the monograph series Zupanič’s Collection. He served as a member of the Executive Committee of the IUAES and a president of the Slovenian Ethnological and Anthropological Association Kula. He participates as an expert researcher in the ERC project Sensotra (Sensory Transformations and Transgenerational Environmental Relationships in Europe, 1950-2020) at the University of Eastern Finland (2016-2021), and B-Air (Art Infinity Radio – Creating Sound Art for Babies, Toddlers and Vulnerable Groups) led by the Radio Slovenia (2020-2023).

Partner: Marc Van Den Bossche (VUB). Email: Marc.Van.den.Bossche@vub.be

Marc Van den Bossche is a full-time professor at the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences at the VUB. He teaches courses on contemporary philosophy of culture and is the author of Kritiek van de technische rede (‘Critique of technical reason’) (Leuven/Utrecht, 1995), Natuur en lijfelijkheid (‘Nature and Embodiment/Physicality’) (Utrecht, 1998), Ironie en solidareit. Een kennismaking met het werk van Richard Rorty (‘Irony and Solidarity: An introduction to the work of Richard Rorty’) (Rotterdam, 2001), Het pathos van het denken (‘The Pathos of Thinking’), De zinnen van het leven. Of de kunst van het verstaan (‘The Meanings of Life: Or the art of understanding’) and Vreemde wereld. Zygmunt Bauman over samenleven in vloeibare tijden(‘Strange World: Zygmunt Bauman on living in liquid times’). He also wrote essays on subjectivity and intersubjectivity, and two bestsellers: Wielrennen (‘Cycling’) and Sport als levenskunst (‘Sports as an art of living’) (Rotterdam, 2005 and 2010). He is the editor and co-editor of book volumes on Rorty, Arendt, Fukuyama and several topics within the history of philosophy. His recent research focuses on decoloniality, postcolonialism and non-western epistemologies.

Partner: Alexandre Coello (UPF). Email: alex.coello@upf.edu

Alexandre Coello de la Rosa earned his PhD at SUNY at Stony Brook (EUA). He is senior professor of history in the Department of Humanities and ICREA Academia researcher at the University Pompeu Fabra (UPF, Barcelona). He is co-editor of the journal Illes i Imperis / Islands and Empires and he is currently coordinating the Master in Asian-Pacific Studies in a Global Context at the UPF. His last publications include (with Josep Lluis Mateo-Dieste), In Praise of Historical Anthropology: Perspectives, Methods, and Applications to the Study of Power and Colonialism (Routledge, 2019), and (with Linda G. Jones), Saints and Sanctity in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Striving for remembrance (Routledge, 2020).

Community assistant: Ana Svetel (UL). Email: Ana.Svetel@ff.uni-lj.si

Ana Svetel works as a researcher at the University of Ljubljana. She completed her BA and MA at the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology. As a junior research fellow, she works on her PhD thesis 'Weather, time, light and darkness in social dimensions of Icelandic landscape'. She participated in numerous study exchanges, research visits and fieldworks (University of Bergen, University of Stockholm, University of Vienna, University of Iceland) and was granted many scholarships (Zois, Erasmus, NFM, Ceepus scholarship). She is a co-chair of the Young Scholars Working Group within SIEF, a member of editorial board of the Bulletin of the Slovene Ethnological Society's Collection and a member of editorial board of the journal Svetovi / Worlds. As an assistant she's taught practical classes at both BA and MA level. In 2022 she was awarded the On Sustainability Research Network Emerging Scholar Award.