In the Green Room: An Experiment in Ethnographic Method at the WTO


Hadi Nicholas Deeb, UCLA Department of Anthropology, 375 Portola Plaza, 341 Haines Hall, Box 951553, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1553,, 917-340-0609

George E. Marcus, Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway (SBSG) 3566, Department of Anthropology, UC Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697-5100,, 949-824-5345


Contemporary anthropological research needs innovations in its culture of ethnographic method, stimulated by encounters with subjects whose perspectives, curiosity, and intellectual ambitions parallel the ethnographer's own. They are often, but not always, subjects who are elites and experts. These encounters go beyond the data-gathering or rapport-promoting interview or conversation. In an anticipatory way, what is transacted shapes directly the evolving analytic frames and conceptual apparatus that figure in the results of research. We explore one such innovation: the staging of para-sites as research events. An interaction with reflexive subjects orchestrated alongside ongoing fieldwork activities, the para-site seeks a mutual shift in stance from researcher–subject to epistemic partnership. Its purpose is to risk interpretations together in a manner that disrupts both researcher's and subject's habitual analytic modes in order to access in situ the emergence of ideas. We report on the conduct of a para-site experiment at the World Trade Organization.