The Platform for Experimental, Collaborative Ethnography (PECE) is a Free and Open Source (Drupal-based) digital platform that supports multi-sited, cross-scale ethnographic and historical research. The platform links researchers in new ways, enables new kinds of analyses and data visualization, and activates researchers’ engagement with public problems and diverse audiences.
I used PECE as both the medium as well as the analytic tool for analyzing the annotated works that I reviewed as part of my orals documents (you can access all three via the following links: STS in Africa, Querying Collaboration, Decolonizing the University). I use PECE as the underlying data infrastructure for my larger dissertation project as well.
An article by Digital Humanities scholar Kathleen Fitzpatrick is a good starting point to partially explain why I felt compelled to use PECE for my orals documents. There are multiple reasons why having this work available online is beneficial: for myself as public demonstration of the literatures I am familiar with, for my future self to use in spurring my memory of the pieces that are relevant and to continue to return to them and reannotate, as a resource for other students to use in crafting their own projects and bibliographies, for interlocutors to see what other relevant works have been done that I am drawing on, etc. Despite the additional work it requires, this form was rewarding for me not least because it also calls into question assumptions and expectations of the PhD process and norms and values that are inscribed in the processes and expected outputs.
My decision to leverage PECE to do my orals documents was an attempt to meditate on the underlying expectations about outputs and milestones within the academy and to play with these assumptions, particularly important given my project topic. I was only able to do so because of the openness and support of the Department.
Finally, creating my orals document on PECE allowed me to develop a familiarity with the platform that proved critical for my fieldwork and my broader dissertation project where I conceptualize PECE as both the data repository and a “para-site” (Marcus 2006) for my fieldwork interactions.