May 10-25, 2022
Responsible Documentation and Conscious Outcomes: Explorations in the Ownership of Knowledge
- Working Group
- Dept. III
This working group runs from May 2022 to September 2023 as part of the research project Ownership of Knowledge: Beyond Intellectual Property. It focuses on building methods and frameworks for responsible documentation and conscious outcomes of mutual benefit to scholars and practitioners.
In response to familiar conditions of disenfranchisement of practitioner knowledge (particularly of indigenous communities and traditional craftspeople in India and Papua New Guinea), in this project we will explore the possibilities for scholars—mindful of their relationships in engaging source communities/practitioners—to produce both responsible documentation of value to academia, and ownership of knowledge for their “source communities.” Through the spectrum—from engaging with practitioners to theoretically considering practices informed by alternative ontologies—we will explore in a series of three workshops set at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) and in India how scholars can understand theory that is inherent in practice, as a formal method.
The first six days of workshops will explore taxonomies of pedagogy to build collaborative tools for research with practitioners. In a second week of activities, small groups will have meetings with sustainable market representatives, museum curators, and will engage with the concept of archives. Here, the focus will be on how non-textual knowledge÷in bodies and objects—can be owned as knowledge. In a final one-day conference, the results of the last days will be presented briefly to invited scholarly participants. The theme of the conference is ‘responsible documentation’. We hope to focus on the following outcomes.
Workshop participants will be a small set of scholars engaged on issues of responsible documentation, along with scholars and practitioners from India, Papua New Guinea, and Brazil working with craft and indigenous knowledge.
Objectives and Outcomes
The outcome will include, but not be exclusively text-based work. The working group will therefore contribute a set of methods and frameworks that speak to our ability to engage equally with our practitioner partners as knowledge partners, to explore the value of producing knowledge of value to both.
This work will be the basis of a two further experimental workshops in 2023 (in India) and 2024 (in Berlin) where we introduce these methods to practitioners, through inviting pairs of scholar/practitioners who would like to explore together.
- The working group will contribute a set of methods and frameworks that speak to our ability to engage mutually with our practitioner partners as knowledge partners, to explore the value of producing knowledge of value and ownership for both.
- To explicate a taxonomy and toolkit that might be shown to practitioners/interlocutors as examples of how academics work. Each workshop will also produce a carefully recorded and written up proceedings as a multi-authored collective document from the group.
Background and Problem
From long experience as engaged scholars writing with practitioners, some fault lines emerge. For example, that which counts as knowledge outcomes in scholarship is different to what counts as knowing toward practitioner outcomes. What counts as academic method can turn practitioners into sources or data, within and outside academia. We note especially that theories generated in academia travel out of the purview of the academic world and can constrain how practice is or should be done, while theoreticians themselves may feel powerless, not seeing the effects of their work, either positive or negative. In response to these familiar conditions—that arise through the spectrum from engaging with practitioners to theoretically considering practices informed by alternative ontologies—in this project, we ask what are the possibilities for scholars – mindful of their relationships in engaging source communities/practitioners—to produce both
responsible documentation of value to academia, and ownership of knowledge for their “source communities.”
In November 2018, 300 weaving and craft producers from South and South East Asia were invited to a 10-day workshop in Chirala, India. They brought their tools and materials—looms, spindles, yarns, dyes etc—to demonstrate their practice, to learn from
one another, and to provide examples of their expert knowledge of materials and bodies. The presence of 72 different kinds of looms created a symmetry that is otherwise absent in the interaction between scholars and practitioners as knowledge bearers. As a reciprocal act we aim to critically reflect on what tools scholars would bring, what empirics, methods, presences and absences would we point to in sharing our skills for them to consider? How would we communicate the craft of research to those who are—by definition of being outside academic practice—not scholars? Would this be one way to think about building new methods and frameworks for responsible documentation and conscious outcomes of mutual benefit to scholars and practitioners?
Let us be clear, this is not only an endeavour to be fair in our academic practice, but also a recognition that our scholarly mode of engaging with practice skews knowledge outcomes
towards solely text-based ones, sieving out knowledge inalienable from bodies and objects. We acknowledge the wide range of engagements to overcome the hierarchy of text in academia, even by the creation of new disciplines such as visual anthropology, or media studies, yet the textual paradigm persists (and with good reason) when it comes to knowledge. We are concerned to consider the implications for ownership. One result can be a myopia in academia to valuable theorising by bodies that do not speak through texts, or abstraction into written language. In many cases, this has led to mistrust on the part of practitioners and indigenous peoples (see for e.g. Decolonising Methodologies), and a resistance that makes collaborations difficult.
Given such parameters, how do we theorise-in our understanding of knowledge production—the business of scholarship – and make a change of positions from analyst and actor, scholar and practitioner, to one that demonstrates shared ownership? In other words, what would it take for scholars and practitioners to frame equal concerns, not just to learn from each other, but have that learning
belong as valid knowledge, to both? While avoiding the assumption that very different actors can find the same value in a process of research, and perhaps spurious fantasies of knowledge-object outcomes that can be all things to all people, we can still to explore how scholars can understand theory that is inherent in practice as a formal method.
We term the eng
agement a “process of research”; conscious that “research” itself is often a source of rejection or resistance. Research then is expanded in our definition to an activity that creates mutual value even though that value is realised in different domains. This requires reflexivity: to appreciate the assumptions that motivate research in the first place – for example the foundational principle that there is a universal value to scientific knowledge, benefitting a common humanity. While this is a perfectly valid approach, it structures the process of research engagement and the forms of its outcomes. In other words, we do not want to limit knowledge objects to being purely research outcomes, as this implies a contribution to this putatively shared, but mono-form resource.
While we are interested in a restorative scholarship, this initiative is not to “benefit” source communities but to work with them in a way they
find new (or old) value in an engagement that both desire to benefit from, by critically engaging in this context with questions of having and owning knowledge. We will explore both textual and non-textual outcomes, as well as collaborations where academic and practitioner have mutually benefited, for example when writers promote artists in their writing, who then become the object of serious study, just as the writers become well known critics.
We propose an initial meeting of a small working group of scholars who have been grappling with these issues in their work. We realise that any experiment will require a certain liminality in theory building, as well as spaces and resources for scholars –- even those seeing entrenched conditions and constraints of producing academic knowledge as problematic—to actually find other ways. To this end, we will bring a small set of scholars together in May 2022 for a week to MPIWG, along with some practitioners/scholars from India and Papua New Guinea (if possible) to map together what such possibilities may look like.
We are not at this stage asking practitioners to help us formulate a method. That may be the responsibility of scholars to offer to practitioners. But we do, in the proposed group, have many who have found ways to
make returns and offer value that we could draw together and draw upon as a kind of tool box for best practice.
The aim of the workshop will therefore be a set of methods and frameworks that speak to our ability to engage equally with our practitioner partners as knowledge partners.
This work will be the basis of a two further experimental workshops in 2023 [In India] and 2024 [In Berlin] where we introduce these methods to practitioners, through inviting pairs of scholar/practitioners who would like to explore together.
 For example in UNESCO definitions of heritage or craft, in influential notions of innovation or the value of creativity, in labelling practices as ‘tradition’, in locating populations or groups within theoretically determined historical periods, genres, or associating them with lack of agency.
May 10–15, 2022: Workshops for Building Collaborative Tools for Research with Practitioners
In this first set of workshops we deal with taxonomies of Pedagogy. Some questions we will raise here are:
1. What will practitioners need to learn in order to understand academic toolkits/methods?
2. How do we account for the diversity of learner styles and experiences in designing such exercises?
3. Is there value in building a taxonomy of pedagogical/interpretative/translation methods as foundational to the working group itself?
May 15–22, 2022: Small Group Explorations into Markets, Museums, and Archives
In this second set of activities, small groups will have meetings with sustainable market representatives, museum curators, and will engage with the concept of archives. The focus will be on how non-textual knowledge - in bodies and objects- can be owned as knowledge.
May 22, 2022: Final Academic Conference
In this final conference, the results of the last days will be presented briefly to invited scholarly participants. The theme of the conference is ‘responsible documentation’. We hope to focus on the following outcomes.
1. Build ways to make returns and offer value that we could draw together and draw upon as a kind of best practice.
2. To produce and test an experimental set of methods and frameworks that speak to our ability to engage equally with our practitioner partners as knowledge partners.
3. To make a plan for conscious outcomes for the participants to work towards, for the next workshop
TUESDAY MAY 10, 2022
- 10:00–16:00: Papua New Guinea
- James Leach, Porer Nombo, Urufaf Anip
- 16:00–18:00: Human Archives
- Uzramma, Gauri with Durga, Pratibha, Ghatit, Abhishek, Satish, Shourya, Dharmendar
WEDNESDAY MAY 11, 2022
- 10:00–12:00: The PENELOPE project (an ERC Horizon 2020 Project)
- Ellen Harlizius Klucke
- 14:00–16:00: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Ellen Harlizius Klucke, Verena Winiwarter, Charlotte Holzer
- 16:30–18:00: Human Archives
- Uzramma, Gauri
- 19:30–20:30: Pint of Science
- Annapurna Mamidipudi and Vivek Oak
THURSDAY MAY 12, 2022
- 10:00–12:00: Spinning
- 14:00–16:00: Cotton
- 16:30–18:00: Human Archives
- Uzramma, Gauri
FRIDAY MAY 13, 2022
- 10:00–16:00: Brazil
- Matheus Vaz, Ana Maria Gomes, Vanginei Leite Silva, Joel Oliveira Gonçalves
- 16:30–18:00: India/Performance
MONDAY MAY 16, 2022
- 10:00–12:00: Ownership of Knowledge: Science Communication Workshop
- Stephanie Hood, Verena Braun
- 14:00–16:00: FV.1: Urban Gardening Project
- 16:30–18:00: SG1 Conversation
- Annapurna Mamidipudi and Vivek Oak in conversation
TUESDAY MAY 17, 2022
- 10:00–12:00: SG2 Conversation
- Viren, Uzramma in conversation
- 14:00–18:00: FV.2 Bakery: Apprenticeship Pathways in Germany
WEDNESDAY MAY 18, 2022
- 10:00–16:00: Interrupted Case Studies
- Ryan Huish
- 16:30–18:00: SG3 Conversation
- Gauri, Marc in conversation
THURSDAY MAY 19, 2022
- 10:00–16:00: FV.3 Kitchen: Learning to Follow Incomplete Texts
- 16:30–18:00: SG4 Conversation
- Eric, Pratibha in conversation
FRIDAY MAY 20, 2022
- 10:00–18:00: FV.4 Museum: Trusteeship of Objects and Ownership of their Knowledge
MONDAY MAY 23–WEDNESDAY MAY 25, 2022
- 10:00–16:00: Papua New Guinea
List of Participants
List of Participants
- Shourya Das
- Gauri Nori
- Satish Poludas
- Pratibha Jain
- Abhishek Murthy
- Durga Venkataswamy
- Vivek Oak
- Ghatit Laheru
- Dharmendar Vaddepally
- Annapurna Mamidipudi
- Jörn Oeder
- Vanginei Leite Silva
- Joel Oliveira Gonçalves
- Matheus Vaz
- Ana Maria Gomes
- Marc Higgin
- Porer Nombo
- Urufaf Anip
- James Leach
- Eric Gurevitch
- Viren Murthy
- Ryan Huish
- Kavitha Dasgupta
- Dagmar Schafer
- Ellen Harlizius-Klück
- Charlotte Holzer
- Verena Winiwarter
- Ulinka Rublack
- Scott Delahunta
- Jocelyn Aznar
- Lise Dobrin
- Ryan Huish
- Michael Scott
- Govert Valkenburg
- Dorothy Ko
- Alexis Von Poser
- Anita Von Poser
- Wiebe Bijker
- Marta Hanson
- Ursula Rao (online)
- Verena Winiwater (online)
- Sumithra Vasudev (online)
Also supported by:
PENELOPE (ERC funding HORIZON, Grant agreement no. 682711). PI: Ellen Harlizius-Klück
Centre for Embodied Knowledge, Hyderabad. Director: Hari Kiran Vadlamani
Contact and Registration
This event is open to invited participants only.