Episode Notes

We explore the fictional academic discipline of aethnography - the study of the behavior of humans engaged in mutual interaction - which has a solid tradition in the universe of Witness. 

Giuseppe and Alberto are joined by Amelia Hassoun, senior researcher and lead ethnographer at Edgeryders. 

For this season, Europarama joins forces with Edgeryders and their Science Fiction Economics Lab as they had an incredible idea. Instead of writing academic papers, they decided to channel out-of-the box economic research by building the world of Witness. 

Witness is a fictional city floating in a post-climate change Planet Earth, where people are organised by districts each experimenting a different social contract and a different economic model, but all of them connected by being constrained in that floating space. 

About Aethnography in Witness 

Aethnography is the study of the behavior of humans engaged in mutual interaction. It explores the phenomena that those interactions give rise to, taking into account the point of view of the interactants themselves and maintaining a stance of openness to evidence of different kinds and coming from different directions, known as epistemic pluralism. 

While all social sciences are taught in the education establishments of Witness, aethnographic thinking plays a special role in informing much of decision-making, both in business and public policy.

Aethnography is applied to the three domains of high theory, applied analysis and action.

Aethnographers engaging in high theory are called theors. They reflect on general patterns and cross-domain intuition, invoking mostly the principle of the chemical wedding.

Aethnographers deploying on the ground to understand a concrete, situated set of issues are called augurs. They immerse themselves into a river of observables, from which they extract intersubjective meaning. They invoke mainly the principle of the pluriversity.

Aethnographers who leave their research institutions to engage in direct action take on the title of incanters. Invoking the principle of the broken tower, they shift to working in favour of a particular outcome: a reform, the starting up of a successful company, a military campaign.

An accomplished aethnographer is expected to have covered all three roles at least once during her career.


Witness is an open-source fictional world. You are encouraged to contribute to its making or to freely use it for your artistic or research projects. 

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Follow Europarama on Instagram @europarama

Get in touch with Giuseppe Porcaro on twitter @porcarorama

Edited by Stefano Montali

Witness is a project by SciFi Economics Lab supported by EIT Climate-KIC and Nordisk Kulturfond