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Master's / Graduate course in Arts-based ethnography, Lesvos 2018

15 ECTS credits, Lesvos 17 June - 1 July 2018.

Application date: 15 April

Artikkelen er mer enn ett år gammel, og kan inneholde utdatert informasjon.

The The landscape in Lesvos combining olive trees and squatter tents (Photo: André Tribbensee)

Image 1: The landscape in Lesvos combining olive trees and squatter tents (Photo: André Tribbensee)


In collaboration with international artists and researchers, Faculty of fine arts, University of Agder, Norway, offers a Master's (graduate) course in Arts-based ethnography summer 2018. The practical part of this course will take place in the Greek island of Lesvos from 17 June to 1 July 2018. The 'home base' will be UiA's study centre Metochi: https://www.uia.no/en/centres-and-networks/metochi , yet with participant projects that may approach different sites, institutions or networks across the island.


The term 'Arts-based ethnography' is coined to envision a multi-faceted working space between artistic practice and ethnographic research. Inspiring this idea is how, as an example, site-related artistic practice often moves towards ethnographic or anthropological research, while ethnographic researchers are also moving toward contemporary artistic practice through forms of expression, applied scholarship or activism (see attached reading list for more).


Before and after the stay in Lesvos, there will be online course activities with presentations, supervision and assignments. There will also be a kick-off gathering in Kristiansand, Norway, 27-28 April, with both on-site participants and online documentation and live presentations being made available for international participants. Final exam will be an exhibition & presentation September 2018 (see attached study plan for details).


Application deadline is 15 April 2018


(Since this might be a short notice for some, we will consider applicants after this date IF the course is not fully booked)


Please send any questions to tormod.w.anundsen@uia.no


Application procedure

We wish to recruit highly motivated and self-driven students for this course, and the number of participants is limited. Applicants are required to include a letter of motivation with their application, commenting on why they apply, and add a preliminary sketch of the project they would like to carry out in relation to Lesvos (max 1000 words).

Please submit application and letter of motivation to ole.t.grimsli@uia.no by 15th of April. Please cc: tormod.w.anundsen@uia.no


The application must include:

  1. Full name
  2. Address
  3. Date of birth  
  4. Documentation of relevant graduate study programme enrollment (i.e. where this course may fit in) and / or relevant background (completed BA programme). "Relevance" means relating to arts and/or ethnography.
  5. e-mail address & mobile phone number
  6. A letter of motivation with a short project sketch / outline


Practical information


The students cover their own travel to Lesvos, and a small tuition fee to UiA (NoK 660). Teaching and supervision, accommodation and meals on the course site in Lesvos are provided for participating students. The students may also need to cover some fieldwork transportation if they exceed the basic budget (i.e. depending on their choice of project), and expenses for own choice of artistic materials or documentation.



Student research projects are encouraged to address and collaborate with local sites, institutions, people and narratives of the island, and our local partners will be available to help students establish contacts when necessary.


More on contents and background

We imagine the two weeks in Lesvos as a period of fieldwork, artistic production, mentoring, discussions, lectures and workshops, laying a base for different types of site-related work – individually or in groups – that demonstrates the potentiality of the combined practices of art and research, while also dealing respectfully with the contexts that one encounters.


From the approach of artistic practice, we are considering Miwon Kwon’s (2002) categorization of what ‘site’ may represent in site-specific art, from the phenomenological (such as places, buildings, landscapes), to the social and institutional (events, places to meet and exchange, social practice) and the discursive (stories, media events, ideas). Hosting such a course in Lesvos will, we envision, open up for all these dimensions.


In recent years Lesvos has become the main transitional route for refugees coming to Europe, and has mainly been represented in the media as linked to the refugee crisis, and is, as such, already saturated in images from the global media. With arts-based ethnography we aim to develop alternative approaches to representation, participation and outcome of ethnographic research, and to explore how these approaches may enable different ways of (Re)presenting others, that is, enter new conversations about the site itself - through people, institutions and places.


In terms of output and dissemination, inviting to arts-based ethnography implies that student research may lead to producing films, podcasts, soundscapes, performative or artistic works, webpages, public scholarship or social action. We are also interested in how arts-based ethnography can be used as a vehicle to present complex issues of representation to audiences within and outside the walls of academia.


Further information

Please also see the attached formal course description.


The people who will facilitate the course will include:

- Hydar Dewachi (artist from London & Iraq)

- Jennie Gubner, Indiana University, Bloomington, US (music & film ethnography)

-  Panayotis Panopoulos (Anthropologist & artist, University of the Aegean, Lesvos) 

- Tormod W. Anundsen, University of Agder (connections between ethnographic & artistic research)


The announcement may be updated 

Image 2: The beach and the naval vessel may illustrate the conflicting images of Lesvos (Photo: Lisbet Skregelid)

Arts-based Ethnography


Included in Study

  • Master’s Programme in Fine Arts

Recommended pre-requisites

It is generally recommended that the students know how to produce some type of artistic or multimedial work (visual media, performance, sound), since the technical aspects of this will not be a major focus.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of the course, students will

  • have a comprehensive understanding of site-specific research approaches that draw both on ethnographic and artistic dimensions
  • have an understanding of ethical dimensions of site-specific artistic practice and research, including questions of participation and representation
  • have and understanding of site-specificity in arts and research both on phenomenological, social, institutional and discursive levels
  • have acquired methodological skills to engage various contexts through innovative research approaches
  • be able to carry out multi-dimensional fieldwork and documentation, and produce research reports that contain both academic and artistic dimensions
  • be able to raise relevant and innovative research questions, and thereby gain a voice within academic and artistic discourse

Course contents

The course Arts-based Ethnography intends to provide students with experience with and skills to undertake innovative and critical research that approaches site-specificity from two angles: First, through exploring current developments in ethnography, or the methodological tradition of explorative research through engaging with local sites and communities. Second, through employing perspectives and methods from site-specific artistic practice to this research. This combination of research and artistic practice places this course in the realm of artistic research, yet with a narrowed-down focus on site-specificity both in terms of methodology and field.


The course focuses on individual and artistic engagement with concrete sites or social contexts as a source of participatory and multi-modal knowledge production. The resulting student works will contain both artistic and research qualities, and aim to speak to and engage audiences both within and outside academic and artistic realms.

Central topics

  • Principles of artistic, practice-led research: traditions, developments and methodological approaches
  • Current developments in ethnographic research: sensory, participatory and critical dimension of fieldwork and outcome
  • Site-specific artistic practices; phenomenological, institutional and discursive dimensions
  • Developing an explorative practice through art and research
  • Multi-dimensional fieldwork and research output

Teaching methods and workload

The course will take place through 3 phases:

  1. Introduction and preparation, where the student prepares a practical fieldwork and is also introduced to the course topics through readings, lectures and group discussion.
  2. Fieldwork, where the student engages in a local site, and shares experiences and reflections with supervisors and fellow students
  3. Follow-up, analysis of data and generation of an arts-based research report through exhibition, performance or similar, along with a written text


Phase 1 and 3 will mainly be carried out as an online course with digital communication, through sharing of student works and progress (blog or similar), video lectures, online group discussions, and individual supervision. There will also be one initial gathering before the fieldwork. Phase 2 of the course is planned to be offered as a summer fieldwork gathering in the island of Lesvos, Greece, in collaboration with Metochi study centre. Other alternatives may be offered depending on financing.


Supervision will be offered through all phases of preparation, fieldwork and follow-up, and will focus on relevant issues and research questions, methodological and theoretical approaches, ethics, scope and presentation of the individual student research project. Supervision will be given individually and in groups, depending on what is most relevant for the students and their projects.


The estimated student workload for this course is 400 hours.


The course evaluation will be conducted in accordance with UiA's standard procedure as set out in the Quality Assurance System.

Examination requirements

Attendance in fieldwork and other gatherings is mandatory. All work assignments must be passed before the final examination can take place. An overview of the assignments and workload will be presented at the start of the course.



Assessment methods and criteria

1)      A final individual presentation of the student research in form of an exhibition or performance will include artistic presentation, documentation, and a short text (approx. 2500 words) demonstrating the student’s process, research question(s) and understanding of the context engaged.


2)      An individual oral examination follows the presentation, based on the submitted text and exhibited work.


Assessed on the basis of pass/fail.

Other Information

The students cover expenses for materials and travel to Lesvos. The students may also need to cover some fieldwork transportation costs (depending on their choice of project) and are generally responsible for the logistics needed to carry out their individual projects during the fieldwork phase.


Highly motivated and self-driven students are necessitated in this course, and the applicants are required to include a letter of motivation with their application commenting on why they apply, with a preliminary sketch of the project they would like to carry out in Lesvos (max 1000 words).

Offered as Single Standing Module


Credit reduction

KF-403 with 15 credits

Language of instruction

Course language will be English. Supervision will also be offered in Norwegian, and student submissions can either be in English or Norwegian.


Coles, Alex (Ed.) (2000). Site-specificity: The ethnographic turn (Vol. 4). London: Black Dog.

Cox, Rupert A., Irving, Andrew, & Wright, Christopher (Eds.). (2016). Beyond text? : Critical practices and sensory anthropology. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Culhane, Dara, & Elliott, Denielle. (2017). A different kind of ethnography: Imaginative practices and creative methodologies. North York, Ont: University of Toronto Press.

Foster, Hal. (1996). The artist as ethnographer? In G. Marcus & F. Myers (Eds.), The traffic in culture. Refiguring art and anthropology (pp. 302-309). Berkeley, LA and London: University of California Press.

Kwon, Miwon. (2002). One place after another: Site-specific art and locational identity. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Pink, Sarah. (2009). Doing sensory ethnography. Los Angeles: Sage.


In addition, there will be a compendium of relevant articles and resources