PhD Course: Research Interrupted

Research, Interrupted: Methods and (re)design of Fieldwork in Anthropology and STS

We are organizing a PhD Course in the ETHOSLab! Focused on research projects that have been interrupted and projects that are re-considering questions of method, we will convene around the current challenges to research projects. Alondra Nelson, a leading STS scholar, has, in her role as president of the Social Science Research Council (USA) described the sense of uncertainty facing social researchers. Since this course will take place online, we have invited colleagues around the world to prepare presentations on method, interruption and more, and we look forward to talking about your projects with you over the course of three days in June.

Course description

How do we do social research at a time when, for the foreseeable future, borders are closing, global cooperation is yielding to widespread mistrust, and necessary public health accommodations such as “social distancing” create hurdles for both human connection and research? While there are certainly digital and other means for accomplishing our work, what does it mean to do video interviews in a time of “deep fakes”? How do we account for the information that might be lost when physical contact is not possible, the inability to see gestures like toes tapping and nervous hands, the “intersubjective encounter”? Alondra Nelson, SSRC, 2020

This course addresses questions of method and research project (re)design. It is aimed at social science and STS PhD students starting or in the middle of their projects, particularly those facing uncertainty about their project futures. As scholars in STS have long argued, our methods shape how we know, and with some methods being unavailable -for an unknown period – due to COVID-19, this course is designed to open up discussion about the multiple paths of research, ways of handling interruption, ambiguity and uncertainty in research, as well as playing with new responses to changed fields.


Nelson, Alondra.2020. Society after Pandemic. SSRC Items Series. April 23,2020.



The aims of the course are

  1. To broaden the selection of qualitative methods available to students
  2. To enable students to think critically with methods as closely connected to the empirical project work
  3. To develop a space of discussion and imagination around interrupted research, adjustments, and possible new plans, with a view to constraints and possibilities.
  4. To enable students to select methods that perform and enact audiences for their projects

Through peer feedback workshops, students will develop new avenues for imagining their research proposals, and receive constructive commentaries from peer and academics. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the scope for project re-design.


Rachel Douglas-Jones, IT University of Copenhagen

Katrine Meldgaard Kjær, IT University of Copenhagen


Lecturers and Facilitators

Keynote: Andrea Ballestero, Ethnography Studio, Rice University USA

Keynote: Marianne Clarke, Vitalities Lab, UNSW Sydney

Facilitators:  Jess Perriam, IT University of Copenhagen and James Maguire, IT University of Copenhagen


Course Dates

10-12 June 2020, 2 x 2hrs per day on Zoom 

Please note that this course is entirely online. It will take place over 3 days, in workshop blocks (morning and afternoon) to combat Zoom fatigue.

Each 2 hr session will combine discussion of a pre-recorded keynote, breakout group work, and/or Q&A with keynote. Q&A will be scheduled according to the availability of guest speakers.





Students should be in the first half of their PhD, and the course will be of most use to students planning on conducting ethnographic work informed by theories from anthropology and STS. It is not a requirement for PhD students to be affiliated with The IT University.


Application Process

Please send an email with

  • Name
  • University, Department
  • Title of your PhD and 2 sentences on your motivations to take this course (addressing the prerequisites) 

to by Wednesday May 27th. You will be notified of your place on the course by Friday May 29th.


Submission of a 1-page scenario describing the student’s project and ambitions, with a list of 10 ways the project has been affected / or may yet be affected by COVID-19. This will be used to create pairs and groups with shared interests.

Read more about the course, design and exam on—research-interrupted—methods-and-re-design-of-fieldwork-in-anthropology-and-sts