This group will serve as the collective workspace for all participants and contributors to the Center for Ethnography’s 2018-2019 annual program,Visualization in Ethnography. The program will facilitate creative collection, production, and analysis of visualization in ethnography, cued by the wealth of visual practices and media in play in the worlds contemporary ethnographers study. Participation may take form of enrollment in one more of the program's three component projects: a thematic seminar series,Visualization Across Disciplines, a design project,Visualizing Toxic Subjects, and a “field works” project,Soiled Grounds, in which groups of ethnographers travel together to various sites exploring a shared theme, sharing fieldnotes as they go. The program extends the Center’s investment in new collaborative and ethnographic forms, leveraging new technical possibilities and insights on visualization from the arts, sciences, and informatics.
As an anthropologist interested in sustainable fashion, my research is broadly focused on the study of objects and materiality through the intersection of design, economics, and law. For this project, I focus on the ways in which the toxicity of the contemporary fashion industry is called out, or queried, through practices of visualization. As an industry that relies on transnational production processes, visualization is a key strategy used by advocates to document the social and environmental impacts of (fast) fashion. However, it is also an increasingly important tool by which self-declared “conscious” companies distinguish their work. To this end, I am drawn to the paradoxical role of visualization as a key means by which the challenges (and progress) in establishing a more sustainable fashion industry are made transparent. In this essay I include images from advertisements and branding campaigns of fashion companies that comment on the sustainability of their work in juxtaposition with the imagery found in journalism. In addition, I include original photographs of garments that challenge how we think about the permeation of toxicity in fashion. Through these images my goal is to query why visualization is privileged as the medium by which sustainability is made transparent.