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  • 1.
    O'Dell, Thomas
    et al.
    Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Willim, Robert
    Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Multi-Targeted Ethnography: Refunctioning Academia in an Age of Bibliometic Measurements and Demands for Societal Usefulness2015In: 33. Nordic Ethnology and Folklore Conference: Copenhagen 2015, 2015, p. 24-24Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Over the past decade scholars in the humanities and social sciences have increasingly been pressed to demonstrate the manner in which their research is “useful” to society while simultaneously, funding for their research has been more tightly tied to bibliometric measurements that prioritize high-brow scholarship geared towards publish results in “leading” international peer-review journals. In many ways these are two demands that seem to point in rather different directions – oriented to very different goals and outcomes for the research in question. This paper works to develop an understanding of how the challenge of moving in two directions at once can be approached.

    In order to do this it develops the notion of multi-targeted ethnography, inspired by George Marcus’s notion of multi-sited ethnography, but with a different focus. Where Marcus’ multi-sited ethnography constitutes an accumulative mode for acquiring research materials, information and inspiration, multi-targeted ethnography, as we develop the concept, is highly distributive in its orientation to the dissemination of potential results and outcomes of the ethnographic endeavor. In addition to developing the concept of multi-targeted ethnography, the paper provides several concrete examples of how multi-targeted ethnographies can be assembled to meet the joint challenges of social engagement and academic advancement.

  • 2.
    O'Dell, Tom
    Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Anorthoscopic vision: Designing and Sensing the Future2014Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    As a means of thinking about the future and issues of uncertainty, I would like to take my point of departure in a project I completed a few years ago (O’Dell 2013) concerning plans to develop a huge particle sciences facility in Lund, called the European Spallation Source (ESS). I was the only ethnologist working with a team of 10 other scholars, all from different disciplinary backgrounds, and I focused my research on what I framed as a cultural history of the future. The ESS, if it were ever to be built (and this was very uncertain since this Big Science facility involved financing from 17 different nations and many billions of Euros, in a time of economic crisis), would not be completed until the year 2019. But procuring the financial resources needed to construct the facility, and to mobilize public opinion in favor of such a development, implied the deployment of a massive publicity campaign. The actors involved in this campaign ranged from the regional government, and city planners of Lund to Lund University and local land owners.

    Twenty years earlier debates raged as plans were made to construct the Öresund Bridge, linking Sweden and Denmark. In these debates visions of the future collided. Would the bridge improve the natural environment in Öresund or be detrimental to it? Would a strong region be a threat to the Swedish and Danish national projects, or an economic motor propelling them forward? Would a bridge facilitate the flow of narcotics and crime through the region, or constitute a precondition for a safer and more dynamic home for the citizens of the region?

    As the idea of the ESS was launched, these types of debates were remarkably missing. In their place one found a rich flora of dreams of how this Big Science facility would spur the development of new golf courses, swimming facilities, public transportation, new schools etc. Architects produced models of the future that were put on display, and the regional planners published all kinds of drawings and CGIs of how the future would come to look in Lund. If the funding for ESS was uncertain, visions of the future seemed to flourish, and I would argue, “a better future” was the only thing that seemed certain.

    So what can this empirical example (very shortly presented here) tell us about the future and issues of certainty and uncertainty? For my own thinking, I am struck by the role “vision”, and “ways of seeing”, function here.

    The mode in which all of this is done (and here I am thinking particularly of the work of urban and regional planners) is a kin to what Paul Virilio (2000:38) describes as anorthoscopic vision which “involves restricting vision by masking all but the barest slit of the visual field, so that a figure is not seen all at once, but is successively revealed”. Vision is always framed, and perhaps visions of the future are destined to be more starkly framed than visions of the present. In the present the viewer always has the option of turning her/his head, or the possibility of peaking around the corner. Visions of the future are defined by stakeholders, and are thus more difficult to gain secondary perspectives upon. But in anorthoscopic vision, it is the minimum that is offered. The form of the object being viewed is not seen in its entirety but in sequential segments, which allude to the actual object’s form, shape and contours. In the case of the ESS the anorthoscopic visuals that are offered may in part be an outcome of the fact that no one is still sure of what the ESS will actually look like in its entirety. But anorthoscopic vision is a steering and controlling form of vision, that in this case even helps conceal the fact that no one yet knows exactly what we are looking at when we think (and when we are told) that we are looking at the ESS. When there is actually, nothing yet to see.

    But anorthoscopic vision does more than offer us a “minimum field of sight” it plays with and reorganizes time. It is a time machine. ESS only exists as a CGI and paper model. But roads are being built, train lines are being drawn, and new neighborhoods are growing. The future in this sense is very present. It is not something that necessarily lies in front of us, but as this case helps illustrate it is very much with us now. It is changing Lund physically, and in a very real manner. So it might be interesting to reflect upon what types of futures we are discussing and encountering in this workshop. Some futures (most of them) will never materialize. They will only have a life in the form of a dream or vision. Some futures will change and slowly come into being as something “Other” than we are envisioning now. And some futures are very present and with us, affecting us and changing us in ways that we may or may not be fully aware of. 

  • 3.
    O'Dell, Tom
    Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Looking Through, to Look At: Glass and the Cultural Challenges to Monitoring, Measuring, and Mediating Bodies2015In: In the flow – People, Media, Materialities: ACSIS conference 15-17 June 2015, Norrköping / [ed] Johanna Dahlin & Tove Andersson, Norrköping: ACSIS, Linköping University , 2015, p. 32-32Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Today, consumers face a rapidly expanding market of technology designed to measure, monitor, and mediate the status of their bodies, and communicate it to the surrounding world. Jawbone, Apple Watch, Nike Run Keeper, and the GoPro Camera are all pieces of body monitoring technology that were vying for consumer attention in 2015. But what types of cultural roots lay behind this interest in high-tech body monitoring accessories? How could an interest in body monitoring develop, and what types of knowledge were they predicated upon? In order to approach these questions, this paper opens by examining some of the most common and low-tech items in our homes and lives from ordinary glass and bathroom scales to home lighting. 

  • 4.
    O'Dell, Tom
    Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Centrum för lärande, kultur och samhälle (CLKS). Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Multi-Targeted Ethnography2015Conference paper (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    As a concept, ethnography is currently riding on a wave of popularity. Having branched out from the folds of anthropology and ethnology it is now currently in vogue in a range of disciplinary fields from contemporary cultural sociology to architecture, design, marketing and management. But the question this article focuses upon concerns the ends of ethnography. What is it capable of becoming, and how might its limits be pushed?

    Pursuing this question, the article argues for a need to rethink and re-theorize ethnography from a slightly different direction than that which is predominantly taught in the cultural and social sciences. It is direction that the article describes as distributive in stance and orientation rather than accumulative. That is, while ethnography is usually framed and taught as an accumulative process of gathering and assembling materials (an endeavor of creating order) the article argues for a need to more systematically theorize (and teach) ethnography in relation to the audiences it is meant to touch, move, and have an impact upon.

    In order to do this, the text takes critical inspiration in George Marcus’ writings on multi-sited ethnography and pushes the concept in the direction of ethnography’s audiences, and towards the development and theorization of new modes of multi-targeted ethnography.

    Central to the line of argumentation made in the paper is an emphasis upon a metaphorical shift in how ethnography is thought of: a shift that moves from the realm of “writing culture” to one of composing ethnography. Writing culture, it is argued, is a cognitive textual endeavor, but composing ethnography moves further, bringing the senses and embodied experiences into play. It asks how, in addition to writing, can culture and cultural experiences be rendered sensually to engage and move different publics and to ever gauge, calibrate and configure that rendering to best meet the needs and competencies of the audience of the day. And the phrasing “of the day” is important here, because it is argued that a disposition to multi-targeted ethnography understands the ethnographic outcome to be temporary, contingent and ever open to change and development.

    This requires a bricolage approach to the melding of analytical/theoretical perspectives with materials, but it also necessitates the development of performative techniques that move beyond textual representations, and it involves explicitly formulated distributive ambitions often not addressed in traditional anthropological courses: including, but not limited to the oral, visual, and digital skills needed to engage different publics and communicate results, the ability to translate concepts and explanations in ways that make them relevant in different contexts, and a belief in the ability of cultural analysis to provide solutions.

  • 5.
    O'Dell, Tom
    Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Regionauts, Mobility and the Boarder Work of Cultural Coalescence2015Conference paper (Other academic)
  • 6.
    Pink, Sarah
    et al.
    Halmstad University, School of Information Technology, Halmstad Embedded and Intelligent Systems Research (EIS). RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
    Fors, VaikeHalmstad University, School of Information Technology, Halmstad Embedded and Intelligent Systems Research (EIS).O'Dell, TomHalmstad University, School of Information Technology, Halmstad Embedded and Intelligent Systems Research (EIS). Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Theoretical Scholarship and Applied Practice2017Collection (editor) (Refereed)
  • 7.
    Pink, Sarah
    et al.
    Halmstad University, School of Information Technology, Halmstad Embedded and Intelligent Systems Research (EIS). RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
    O'Dell, Tom
    Halmstad University, School of Information Technology, Halmstad Embedded and Intelligent Systems Research (EIS). Lund University, Lund, Sweden.
    Fors, Vaike
    Halmstad University, School of Information Technology, Halmstad Embedded and Intelligent Systems Research (EIS).
    Introduction: Theoretical Scholarship and Applied Practice: Opportunities and Challenges of Working in the In-between2017In: Theoretical Scholarship and Applied Practice / [ed] Sarah Pink, Vaike Fors & Tom O'Dell, New York: Berghahn Books, 2017, p. 3-28Chapter in book (Refereed)
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