The Ethnography Lab of Western Australia

About us

For over a century, ethnography has been foundational for the discipline of anthropology. As has long been recognised, the real strength of ethnography is that it is both a set of research methods, and a set of strategies for representing social and cultural worlds. 

The Ethnography Lab of Western Australia is developing innovative, co-designed ethnographic methods, and is forging new, co-produced ethnographic representations, for the century ahead, using the very latest digital technologies. 

Whereas once, we thought that ethnography - as both method and representation - revolved primarily around writing, today we recognise that it includes everything from art, to photography, film, comic books and even theatrical performance. 

For those working in the heritage sector, ethnography also requires knowledge of GIS, aerial mapping (via drones), and other technical and digital competencies. 

The Lab is using digital technologies to support co-designed, multi-modal, ethnographic research. Its projects are looking at: the digitisation and activation of culturally sensitive archives; digital storytelling and truth-telling, and; the use digital technologies within traditional fieldwork settings.

Digital technologies allow us to do ethnography in new ways:

  • in ways that involve novel combinations of multi-sensory media;
  • in ways that allow us to produce and combine ethnographic ‘data’ at all scales (from one remote community, to a transnational field);
  • in ways that may ultimately dissolve our former categorical distinctions, such as those between: ethnography as method vs ethnography as representation; field vs archive; human vs other-than-human; ‘the real’ vs the imaginary; and even between researcher vs respondent. 


Africa in Australia Research and Engagement Platform

Social Surroundings

Transforming Gender, Transforming Agriculture in Vietnam

South Sudanese Stories

Ge'ez Manuscripts

The Field—Notes Project

(Re)sounding Photographs

The Chinese Western Australians Project

Roads to the Future

Serious Games

Stop the Violence Programme

Graphic Ethnography


The Ethnography Lab of Western Australia was established in 2020 as a constituent part of the Digitisation Centre of Western Australia. This is a major piece of research infrastructure set up by a consortium of WA universities (The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, Edith Cowan University and University of Notre Dame), the State Library of Western Australia, and the Western Australian Museum. 

The Ethnography Lab is extending the work of the Centre’s significant digitisation capabilities, by developing new approaches for undertaking community-focused collaborative, and co-designed, research with and through all kinds of digital assets. 

The Lab is led by Director Richard Vokes, who has been doing ethnography for 25 years in Africa, Europe, Antarctica and Australia, and who is deeply committed both to ethnography’s deeply analytical capability, and to its strange and wonderous potential. 






Our team

Richard Vokes (Director), UWA

Gertrude Atukunda, Makerere University

Rochelle Spencer, Murdoch University

Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, Curtin University

Benjamin Smith, UWA

Kwadwo Adusei-Asante, Edith Cowan University

Elizabeth Ayom Lang, Diversity Focus and Curtin University

Yu Tao, UWA

Peter Deng, Africa World Books

Anthony Duckworth, Fairplace and UWA

Abdulrahim Elmi, Roots TV

Derrick Mugenyi Kaliisa, Artist in Residence, 2024

Contact Professor Richard Vokes

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Research Repository

Read more about Professor Richard Vokes