Welcome to the CIE

The Centre for Imaginative Ethnography is a transnational independent research collective whose five co-curators and fifty current members include scholars, artists, artist/scholars, activists, and practitioners located around the world. The CIE offers a space for communication and collaboration, debate and practice, creativity and action generated by experimental and emergent ethnographic methodologies that integrate and fuse creative arts, digital media, and sensory ethnography, and where new ethnographic writing is encouraged in teaching, theory, and practice.

We take imaginative and experimental ethnography as points of departure – an invitation to live differently, to animate spaces, classrooms, and stages, to listen carefully to the lives of others, to use humor and imagination to write, picture, and perform the world alive. We chose the terms imaginative and experimental ethnography because we seek to shift our attention from the results of our research to include the very processes which enable and shape knowledge co-creation and circulation.

As we use it, the term “imaginative” refers to a recognition of imagination and creativity as central and significant practices in human social relations. Taking “imagination” seriously is necessarily accompanied by a commitment to open-ended inquiry that can embrace risks, challenges to orthodoxy, and anticipations of unintended outcomes.

“Ethnography,” in our usage, refers to a methodology: embodied, affective, relational processes of knowledge co-creation, circulation and circulation that develop from, elaborate and enrich, and challenge and subvert conventional ethnographic methods such as participant observation and observant participation, interviewing, documentary and archival research.

Our goal is to bring together kindred spirits– from within and without universities – in conversations and actions that articulate critical research and seek new forms of political engagement. We hope the CIE and this website can be a gathering place for people interested in possibilities, a space for generating conversations and debates and sharing resources, and for instigating action.

Notice: In 2017 we revamped our website to a smaller and more manageable version. Previous contributions (pedagogy, galleria, imaginings) remain accessible to visitors in an archive folder.

Who we are

We co-founders and current co-curators of the CIE are five people who currently live in Canada. As researchers, and people committed to social change, we are interested in exploring the border zones of ethnographic writing, performance, and sound and image-making, within and between public and private spaces.

Our projects are engaged with everyday life, with bodies, memories, and social rituals, with singularities and collectivites entangled in histories, cultures, and politics. They take a variety of forms: performances, public conversations, political mobilizations, teaching, scholarly and community gatherings and interventions, and publishing in diverse forms and venues.

The common ground we share is a critical passion for creative ethnography: its practices, politics, promises, potentials and pitfalls, expressed in our “Manifesto/Invitation”:



The imaginative ethnography we invite you to join us in co-creating follows Maple Razsa’s articulation of

anthropology at its best: 

“…the exploration of ways of being human that are at odds with what appears natural and inevitable from the vantage point of the present.” Razsa, Maple J. (2012) “Toward An Affirmative Ethnography”, Anthropology News, November, (PP. 35).


The imaginative ethnography we invite you join us in co-creating is

inspired by the possibilities

that social, cultural, political and aesthetic theories and practices offer to transgress conventional boundaries between theory and method, and to think with in creating conditions of possibility for reimagining the past, present and future of the worlds we inhabit.


The imaginative ethnography we invite you join us in co-creating 

challenges traditions of dividing collective processes,

or research projects, into discrete time periods mapped onto conventional disciplinary turfs such as ethnography for “mining raw data” through interviewing and participant observation; arts for transforming “raw data/the real” into aesthetic representations and communicative acts; sociology for assessing impacts and effects. Rather, we propose interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary collaborations between and among ethnographers and artists sharing ideas and practices throughout processes.


The imaginative ethnography we invite you join us in co-creating  has 

strong affinities with performance studies.

We consider performance as a scaffolding for thinking, feeling, being and doing in the world that takes storytelling, and the social and political lives of stories, as practices engaged in by embodied and sentient beings.


The imaginative ethnography we invite you join us in co-creating is

an ethical/political project. 

We believe our work should strive to be meaningful to those who participate in it whether individuals, received or constructed kin groups, self-defined temporary collectivities, intentional communities of practice, or more formally defined communities and organizations. These methodologies and commitments, hopes and dreams form the ties that bind creativity, politics, ethnography and arts in our imaginative practices.


Please join us in this work in progress and in building the CIE. 

Become a member. Tell us about your work. Share your commentaries, insights, questions, interventions, and suggestions. Send us notices about events and publications for posting on our Facebook page.  Peruse our pedagogy section and share your own syllabi and ideas about teaching in multiple venues, and/or offer your experiences as a student. Propose new CIE activities. 

We accept submissions in many languages.