Episode 6: Working Ethnographically as a Geographically Distributed Team

Welcome to the Connectors Study Podcast, a six-part series celebrating oral culture as a legitimate form of knowledge construction, explores various aspects of doing ethnographic research with children on the ERC funded Connectors Study (2014-2019). Researchers, Melissa Nolas, Christos Varvantakis, and Vinnarasan Aruldoss, all based at Goldsmiths, University of London at the time of recording, recount their experiences doing ethnography with children, the historical contingency of the research, sampling, and team work.

In this episode we join Melissa, Christos, and Vinnarasan as they review the process of working together as a research team across large distances over an extended period of time. The team had to tackle a number of challenges and work together asynchronously, using technology and subverting the typical image of ‘lone ethnographers’.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The four month planning process in Brighton.
  • Managing a collaborative workflow across the three cities.
  • How the use of technology and the internet helped the research project and the team members.
  • The value of meetings and the wealth of ideas and content that came out of them, especially outside of institutional spaces and normal working hours.
  • How the process of moving in and out of synchronisation worked during the international research.
  • Why the image many have of a ‘lone ethnographer’ is inaccurate.

The researchers:

Melissa Nolas
Melissa Nolas is an interdisciplinary social scientist, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the Principal Investigator of the ERC funded Connectors Study. Her research focuses on childhood publics and children’s relationships to public life; child, youth, and family welfare, well-being and social support; civic and political practices across the life course; multimodal ethnography and publics creating methodologies. She has published widely on these topics. She is the co-editor of the online journal entanglements: experiments in multimodal ethnography.

Christos Varvantakis
Christos Varvantakis is an anthropologist, working as researcher at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He has a BA in Sociology (University of Crete, Greece), an MA in Visual Anthropology (Goldsmiths, UK) and a PhD (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany). His research focuses on the intersections of childhood and public life, politics and urban environments, as well as on visual and multimodal research methodologies. He has carried out ethnographic research in Greece, India and Germany over the last 15 years. Christos is Head of Programming of Ethnofest, an international festival of ethnographic film held in Athens, Greece every year.

Vinnarasan Aruldoss
Vinnarasan Aruldoss is a Research Fellow at Goldsmiths College, University of London. He obtained his PhD in Social Policy at The University of Edinburgh and prior to that worked several years with a number of civil society organisations, government departments and multilateral agencies as a social development practitioner in India. He is interested in inter-disciplinary research that contributes knowledge to the broader domains of childhood, early years provision and social policy analysis. He has published mainly in the fields of sociology of childhood, early years education, political sociology and childhood policy.

This concludes the our series of podcasts on the Connectors Study. We hope you gained valuable insights into our research process, and what it means to undertake modern ethnography studies. Thank you for listening.

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