In a 2020 post, Gökçe Günel, Saiba Varma, and Chika Watanabe reflected on the fragmentation, precariousness, and new ways of being that unfolded during the pandemic and, in doing so, defined a new form of ethnographic práxis, which they titled patchwork ethnography. Rooted in feminist and decolonial principles, this form of ethnography “offers a new way of recognizing and accommodating how researchers’ lives in their full complexity shape knowledge production.” Taking a cue from Günel, Varma, and Watanabe, we considered what it would look like if we applied the principles of patchwork ethnography to pedagogy on and about collaborative research. Specifically, we sought to interweave the values outlined in their manifesto within a graduate course offered at the Goeldi Museum in January 2023. The goal was to introduce and engage students in discussions about collaborative, sensitive, decolonial, Indigenous, and anti-racist research methodologies, including demystifying the research and publication process.
We ask: How do we integrate the holistic approach outlined in the manifesto in course design (immersive, embodied, personal and professional, procedural and experiential)? What sources and holders of knowledge reflect diverse voices, knowledge, and practices to share, extend, and explore in the course? What are ways to create creative but also brave and safe spaces (material and immaterial) for students with diverse positionalities?
The result was a thirty-hour, eight-day course called “Diverse topics in cultural anthropology: collaborative anthropology.” The course was offered as part of the Fulbright project [FSP-P008165] “Engagement between Forest Peoples and Academia.” Like many who turned to new pedagogies to design with vulnerability and compassion during the pandemic, the course was a space to engage with the feminist principles outlined in the patchwork manifesto to create a supportive, generative, equity-inflected course as students (and faculty and staff) reinvigorated face-to-face spaces after more than two years of the online or hybrid format. Diverse modes of sociality and relationality were prioritized in the classroom and the course design ultimately reflected inclusive, decolonizing, and feminist pedagogies and methodologies.
In its final form, the course unfolded in the following sequence:
- Each day was organized around a central theme, from which different pedagogical and classroom strategies were adopted in order to utilize and accommodate diverse learning styles, mediums, and voices.
- At least one synergistic or reflective activity was offered per day, so that students developed a portfolio as the course unfolded. Both a digital and a print version of a course journal were provided to students. It was filled with the key ideas from each session and classroom activities for students to reflect on and record their activities, thoughts, ideas, questions, and provocations. Considering that students had differential access to laptops, smartphones, and other means to engage digitally in real time, both formats were welcome. All activities that were outlined in their journals were also discussed and given space in class.
- At the end of each class, resources, articles, websites, PowerPoints, and images from the day's board were shared. At the end of the course, all materials were emailed to students in shared, cloud-based folders.
Finally, students were invited to create a Zine as their culminating piece. The goal of the Zine was to tell their own research story using the pieces they had already generated during the workshop. The materials for the Zine were provided by the instructor (paper, colored pencils, crayons), which the students supplemented with additional materials to share in class (journals, oil pastels, watercolors).
As the course sought to follow and cater to the ways we learned best together, we changed, modified, and updated the course materials and format as we went along. A reciprocal, horizontal dialogue was fundamental to this space, especially in sharing resources, discourses, and plural epistemologies across multiple academic and positional boundaries.
Importantly, the topics related to critiques of capitalism, the Global North/South, and settler colonialism became threads that we embroidered within our days as we worked together. We were attentive to citational politics, and increased the density of sources from Brazilian anthropologists and relevant regional and local institutional websites. Adjustments to course activities, such as more time for group discussion, greater use of multimedia, and scheduling a microconference where students could present their work, were introduced based on class discussions and preferences.
Finally, several planned activities were abandoned (such as in-class contributions to Collaborative Indigenous Research Digital Garden) to accommodate for the changes. As a point of reference, these activities were retained in the journals so that students could reference or return to them if they wished. In order to accommodate the microconference, we condensed the last two days of the workshop into one. The conference included Zine presentations accompanied by food and refreshments.
Additional Activities after Group Feedback
Creating a Collective Space
Ontology, Epistemology, and Ethics
Collaborative, Decolonial, and Indigenous Research Methodologies
Positionality and Reflexivity
Sovereignty and Data Management Plans
Demystifying the Writing Process
Demystifying the Publishing Process
Intersection: Settler Colonialism, Critiques of Capitalism, and Global North/South.
Student Journals (Digital and Printed) Micro-Lectures (15-20 min)
Pair and Action
Whiteboard Word Cloud
Reading Passages Aloud
Digital Gallery “Walk”
Short and Long Lectures
Microconference (Zines Presentation)
Closing with Collective Refreshments
- Cloud with: Course Journal (see, for example, Course Portfolio), Resources, PowerPoints, Whiteboard Photos of the Day
- Folk art materials: Instructor—colored pencils, crayons, paper; students—old magazines, scissors, rulers, watercolors, oil pastels
Creating a Collective Space
Ontology, Epistemology, and Ethics
Positionality and Reflexivity
Data Sovereignty and Data Management Plans
Special Activity—Day for Zine Making
Demystifying the Writing Process
Activity: Group discussion—what are the challenges and benefits of co-creation and writing? Who is our audience? Why and for what purpose?
Activity: Group discussion—what are the different strategies for creating communities of practice and different mentors?
Demystifying the Publishing Process
Activity: Discussion and group reflection—what might be some examples of difficult conversations about authorship?
Activity: The group reads a common article title, abstract, and keywords. Discuss.
Closing and Microconference—Zines Presentation
Ultimately, the multi-part class is sculpted as a collective space where we could disrupt, question, learn, and share in a way that we felt we nodded to the principles of the patchwork ethnography. We continually add to our resource portfolio as we go along, resulting in a robust collection of diverse sources, from news media, websites, online videos, peer-reviewed articles, and more.
As the course was concluding, we discussed publishing this blog together. Students decided that they could voluntarily choose to participate in the blog; and of those who chose to participate, whether or not they wanted to share their Zine. A three-hour block was set aside for Zine creation, and students had several days to finalize whether they wanted to update or change before the microconference or blog publications. Below we share the final results.
**The Zines shared should read as experimental and experiential**
Gallery of Student Work and Zines
- Luiz Claudio Brito Texeira: I am Luiz Cláudio, graduated in History at Federal University of Pará (UFPA) in 2005. I have been working with indigenous, quilombola, and traditional communities since 2001. Currently developing research for a Master's degree in the Graduate Program in Socio-Cultural Diversity at the Goeldi Museum, with the theme: The History of the Rural Workers Union of Altamira: the period 1985–1990. Under the supervision of Professor Dr. Márcio Auguso Meira and co-supervision of Professor Dr. Roberto Araújo. (Note: Luiz decided not to share his Zine and chose instead to represent himself and his work in this form).
- Camila Barros Coelho: Graduated in Production Engineering and Social Communication–Journalism. I met Anthropology during my academic path, and today I am a Master's student in Anthropology in the Graduate Program in Social Sciences (PPGSA) at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), under the guidance of Professor Denise Machado Cardoso. My research focuses on the impact of digital media, especially Internet social networks, on the Mebêngôkre-Kayapó villages, with initial locus in the village A'Ukre (Pará). The focus of my (Camila’s) Zine is on the discovery of Anthropology and Collaborative Ethnography.
- Debora Suely do Espírito Santo Souza: Graduated in Portuguese Language from the Federal University of Pará. I am specializing in the History of Philosophy and Feminine Thought at the Vicentina University. I am currently doing my Master's degree at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, in Socio-Cultural Diversity. My research revolves around the “Insurgent Voices—The Mebengokrê-Kaiapó Women: the female protagonism in the Kayapó Indigenous Land in the Fight for the Defense of the Forest today (2000–2022)”. See Debora’s Zine here.
- Odanilde Freitas Escobar: Graduate student, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Supervisor Prof. Helena Pinto Lima. See Odanilde’s Zine here.
- Cássia Luzia Lobato Benathar: I am a graduate in Full Degree in History by the National Program for Training of Teachers of Basic Education (PARFOR) at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), and I am currently a master's student in the Graduate Program in Sociocultural Diversity of the Emílio Goeldi Museum of Pará (PPGDS/MPEG) with an emphasis on Culture and Heritage. I am developing research on the Jewish families who migrated to the Amazon region in the late nineteenth century—the study deals with the challenges of settlement to the networks of influences created for their economic and political rise, under the guidance of Dr. Nelson Rodrigues Sanjad and co-supervision of Dr. Helena Lima and Dr. Marcio Meira. In addition, I am a collaborating member of the Origins, Culture and Environment Project (OCA) at MPEG, and I coordinate a collective “Nós, os Guardiões” (We, the Guardians), a partner to this project, which carries out actions in the field of Heritage Education. My (Cássia’s) Zine is about my research, the steps taken until this moment, the search for sources in the notarial archives, and the discoveries of Jewish cemeteries along the riverside towns, signaling the Jew as one more subject in this sociocultural diversity that marks the Amazon territory.
- Ana Paula Neves Lins: I am Ana Paula Neves Lins, born and raised in Belém do Pará (Amazon—Brazil). I graduated in Geography at the Federal University of Pará, and I am currently doing my Master's degree in Sociocultural Diversity at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. My research focus is cultural heritage in peripheral urban areas. The zine I developed is a brief presentation of myself. See Ana’s Zine here.
- Jéssica Michelle Rosário de Paiva (Mika): Graduated in Museology, from the Federal University of Pará (UFPA), currently a Master's student in the Graduate Program in Socio-cultural Diversity at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, with emphasis on Ancient and Traditional Populations (Archaeology), under the guidance of Dr. Marcos Pereira Magalhães. My research is focused on the importance of aesthetics, iconography present in ceramic objects, and space for the understanding of cosmological and sociocultural diversity of pre-colonial populations who lived in the Amazon, specifically in Carajás—PA. My (Jéssica’s) Zine approaches, in a simple and direct way, the importance of space, time, and object for the study of Archeology, showing that these three aspects are linked within the multidisciplinarity of research, as well as the general and specific objectives of my work.
- Luiza (Lyiza) Silva de Araújo: Through didactic illustrations, some of them inspired in the book: Cerâmicas arqueológicas da Amazônia: rumo a nova síntese (Archeological Ceramics of the Amazon: Towards a New Synthesis), I invite the general public and children to the artistic emotion present in the grandiose deeds of the ancestral spirits, empowering our origins, and unveiling the systematic cultural erasure of our homeland since colonization, thus performing dialogical justice. Decreasing the distance to the cultural artifacts provided evidence that the ancestral cultural management of the Amazon is present in our cultural identity, food, places, forests, and habits—this originated long before 1500. By strengthening the sense of belonging of Amazonian populations, we restore to the people of the enchanted forest, to their ancestors and descendants, their denied intellectual property, and through contemplating the magnitude of their technologies, we can dream of a better future, beautiful with plenty and respect for the environment guiding new steps towards a new synthesis. See Luiza’s Zine here.
- Renildo de Sousa Barbosa: I have a degree in Social Sciences from University of Pará State. Student at the Graduate Program in Sociocultural Diversity by the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, research focused on Indigenous peoples and traditional communities. I worked between 2018 and 2021 as a volunteer Sociology teacher at Cursinhos Populares (low income public high schools). I worked in 2022 as a Basic Education teacher in the Municipality of Santo Antônio do Tauá. I am developing research on Field Education in the Amazon and its interfaces, Sociology of Youth, Visual Anthropology, and Anthropology of Film. The focus of my Zine is on Collaborative Research as an object of study in the Field Education in the Amazon, as it relates to traditional communities, as well as highlights visual and filmic anthropology. See Renildo’s Zine here.
- Samantha Raissa Cunha da Silva: Graduate student, Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. See Samantha’s Zine here.
In conclusion, these Zines were the culmination of a short-term but immersive course where we collectively explored diverse research methodologies and designs. During the course, we sought to integrate a “patchwork” course design that attended to the immersive, embodied, personal and professional, procedural and experiential facets of learning, knowing, and being during our short time together. We found that anchoring each day around rotating themes, active-learning exercises, and respecting diverse voices allowed for a collaborative practice to unfold, a safe space for exploration and play, and a forum to work through vulnerabilities in the research process. Furthermore, by centering student lives, worlds, positionalities, and experiences, this scaffolded course offered opportunities to complete tiny assignments that culminated in a microconference and Zine. Student were able to share—or not—their Zines in the final conference and blog, and they also decided whether or not they would like to add their voices. Some of the institutional features of the course that allowed for such intense routes to pedagogy were the flexible course design, module format, and the support of the faculty at the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi. Instead of a checklist to offer for patchwork pedagogy, we invite others to experiment with the same questions we posed at the beginning of this post to see what journey your patchwork design might take you and what might be cultivated in the process.
We thank the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Professors Marcos Magalhães, Marcio Meira, and Glenn Shepard. Professor Helena Pinto Lima was the coordinator of the Fulbright Grant [FSP-P008165] “Engagement between Forest Peoples and Academia.”
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Günel, Gökçe, Saiba Varma, and Chika Watanabe. 2020. “A Manifesto for Patchwork Ethnography.” Member Voices, Fieldsights, June 9.
Lima, Helena P. 2019. “Patrimônio para quem? Por uma arqueologia sensível.” Revista Habitus 17, no. 1: 25–38.