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Summer School on Remote Ethnography: A Methodological Toolkit

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

31 July – 4 August

Olomouc, Czech Republic


The Summer school provided students and junior researchers with an indispensable set of tools for remote ethnography, with the primary goal of facilitating research in areas of restricted access, yielding comprehensive, in-depth, and detailed insights akin to traditional ethnography. Throughout the summer school, various remote research methods were introduced. Contemporary trends in remote research tend to focus on isolating and analysing disparate datasets independently. In contrast, the approach advocated in this summer school encouraged researchers to combine and cross-reference these diverse data types.

The Summer school drew inspiration from earlier traditions of remote research, particularly those established during WW2 and the Cold War, to establish an epistemological framework for the analysis of vastly different datasets. Simultaneously, it aimed to critically assess the role of the researcher and their potential involvement in the creation of colonial-style knowledge. Through thoughtful discussions regarding the risks of misusing research for counter-insurgency and exploiting vulnerable populations, our research aims to contribute to the development of an essential ethical code, which was a central focus of the workshop's agenda.

General themes:

  • Introduction and overview, history of remote research and sources to draw from

  • Online ethnography, discourse analysis, video analysis

  • Interview techniques and oral history

  • Remote sensing for dummies – satellite imagery, Google Map/Google Earth/Open Street Map, etc.

  • Source criticism, fact checking, triangulation & decolonial theory

  • Bringing it all together in a holistic Remote Ethnography – and your own data and research

The Summer school took on a hybrid format, welcoming 23 students for in-person attendance and five for remote online participation. These attendees were chosen from a pool of over 70 applicants, representing a diverse array of nationalities including Austria, China, Belgium, Italy, France, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Nigeria, Turkey, the Czech Republic, India, and Vietnam. All parts of the programme were held under the Chatham House Rule.

The feedback regarding the Summer school was predominantly positive. Many students expressed gratitude for the insightful and valuable texts and presentations, and for a stimulating and intensive week of learning and discussion. While some more critical feedback suggested a desire for increased group discussions and greater interaction with each other's projects in any potential future summer school. The students appreciated the coherent structure of the summer school and the seamless integration of presentations and topics, with cross-referencing throughout the week.

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