Agency in Applied Ethnography - An EthnoBorrel in collaboration with EPIC

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*** NOTE *** Register your interest through Meetup. We will have a separate registration process for the conference. Registration may include a small fee to cover catering and incidentals.

EthnoBorrel and the University of Amsterdam are running a one-day event in Amsterdam, parallel to the annual conference of the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community (EPIC). The purpose of the conference is to build connections with our fellow ethnographers on both sides of the pond and explore issues specific to the European context.

Today, the profile of ethnography in European industry is growing rapidly. Here in the Netherlands, EthnoBorrel, AbV, and the Interbuilding Applied Anthropology Meetup are some of the fora where ethnographic practitioners discuss their work. These developments provide an excellent opportunity for us to work together to strengthen our profession and demonstrate our value to industry. We can learn a lot from our North American counterparts, especially the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community (EPIC) who have been successful in promoting the use of ethnographic principles to create business value across different domains of industry.


The theme of EPIC2019 focuses on human agency in the new age of automation: “Today, organizations seeking competitive advantage invest in AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics that aim to take humans “out of the loop,” optimizing and automating everything from business intelligence to customer engagement to personal style. But human agency is not disappearing with such advances; it is evolving and reconfiguring. The value proposition of these new technologies still requires deep humanistic perspectives.”

Some important topics that will be driving discussion will be:
What does it mean to have opportunity, choice, and influence, and the ways in which agency is exercised in an increasingly complex world?

* How models of human behavior and culture shape new spaces of opportunity and risk?
* When agency is reduced to automation, what gets left out?
* When machines make business decisions, what is the impact on human agency?
* How can human agency can be enhanced by design? Where and how do ethnographers come in?

This one-day EthnoBorrel event will also explore the theme of agency with respect to the European context.
* In what ways might the topic of agency and technology in Europe differ from that of North America?
* What social, cultural, linguistic, or market contexts should we consider with respect to agency?
* How does agency affect our practice in Europe?


Pecha Kuchas

PechaKucha is a storytelling format, where a presenter shows 20 slides with 20 seconds of commentary each (6 minutes and 40 seconds total). In our sessions, we invite individuals to share personal presentations about their work that revolves around agency and technology / European ethnographic practice, followed by a Q&A session, lasting for 15 minutes in total.


Workshops are small, focused sessions emphasizing audience participation and group discussion. Each workshop will be led by a single organizer/facilitator, or a small group of facilitators, and aim to generate analysis and knowledge exchange around agency and technology / applied ethnographic practice. Workshops will be held concurrently with Pecha Kucha sessions and will be allocated a total of 90 minutes.

How to submit a proposal

Please create a brief and succinct proposal in English with the following details:
* Name & affiliation
* Title
* Type (Workshop/Pecha Kucha)
* Abstract (max. 500 words)
* Any special requirements for your proposal

Please send in your entries to [masked] with the relevant subject: or

The deadline for submitting entries is Monday, 2 September, 2019