The Summer School in Ethnography at the University of Trento aims to provide participants with an inside view on the practice and the skills of ethnography across social sciences.

As such, the School represents a forum where adepts, students, cadets and scholars may familiarize themselves with the status of the discipline, absorbing the tools as well as the tricks of the trade directly from long-time practitioners.

Much space will be given to theoretical reflection, as well as to the opportunities, pitfalls and dilemmas which emerge in everyday fieldwork practice. The 2018 edition will be primarily focused on the ethnography of mobility, domesticity, emotions and everyday relations in diverse urban environments.

Teaching methods will be based on lectures, as well as on interactive formats such as workshops, data sessions and roundtables. Participants will have a chance to present their current research projects, receive feedback and recommendations from the guest professors.

There will be four extended lectures by established international scholars. Presentation of case studies and on-going research will occupy a large share of the allotted time. Reading materials will be circulated well in advance among participants, ensuring that they arrive at the meeting with a strong shared background.

The Summer School draws on the expertise of the Department of Sociology at the University of Trento in the fields of migration and ethnicity, care, diversity, home studies and qualitative research methods.



Henrike Donner (Goldsmith, University of London)

Henrike Donner is an urban anthropologist with extensive fieldwork experience in South Asia and interests in the relationship between gender, kinship and class as well as urban politics. Her main body of work draws on long-term engagement with Kolkata, India, where she has been doing research from the mid-90s onwards. Her publications focus on middle-class middle-class citizens’ global culture and local, everyday practices. Her publications include Domestic Goddesses: Maternity, Globalisation ad Middle-class identity in Contemporary India; Being Middle-class in India: A Way of Life and (with Geert De Neve) The Meaning of the Local: Politics of Place in Urban India. Her current work is concerned with gender and urban property regimes.
“Home is were you get the most”: Neoliberalism, Middle-class diasporas and NRI home-making in Kolkata, India.
In this lecture I will provide an insight into a specific pattern of home-making, namely second homes created in India by Indo-German couples. Recent decades have seen urban restructuring on an unprecedented scale, which caters to middle-class consumers and their lifestyles and in particular to the much coveted NRI (non-resident Indian). In Kolkata as elsewhere, a sizeable number such investors are senior citizens, who purchased flats as second homes, and whilst not the majority, many are from Germany, often with one German partner. The talk will trace the commonalities between these families, their particular ways of making homes in the city, and the way their transnational lives produce distinct lifestyles between the nods of regimes of care, class-based consumption and kinship and a deliberate NRI lifestyle infused with neoliberal ideology.
“Urban Anthropology”: Ethnography of urban space in a new era
Based on my ethnography of post-liberalisation middle-class family lives and fieldwork in Kolkata, India, from the 90s onwards, the seminar aims at discussing some of the more challenging aspects of urban spaces for the ethnographer and in particular of writing about urban space as an empirically-orientated anthropologist.

Ghassan Hage (University of Melbourne)

Ghassan Hage is Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne. He works on comparative nationalism, racism and multiculturalism as well as on the Transnational Lebanese Diaspora. He also writes on social and anthropological theory and particularly the work of Pierre Bourdieu. He has held many visiting professorships around the world including at the universities of Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Harvard and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes in Paris. He is the author of many books including White Nation (2000), Against Paranoid Nationalism (2003), Waiting (2009), Alter-Politics (2015) and most recently Is Racism an Environmental Threat? (2017).
The Lenticular Condition
Lenticular technology is the technology behind those surfaces that allow you to see two different photos on the same surface depending on the angle from which you look at them: Smiling face/frowning face; Jesus/Mary; old house/renovated house; young/old. When we think of reality we think of it at best as a three dimension version of one reality. But what if this homogenized mono-realism is itself an effect of power that diminishes what is otherwise a lenticular multiplicity of realities. My work on Lebanese diasporic culture has highlighted the lenticular experience of reality as one of its chief characteristics. But isn’t the lenticular condition becoming a more pronounced and generalized condition today. Are we not increasingly inhabiting realities that are continuously flickering and changing before our very eyes? This opens the way for an anthropology of disintegration but also an anthropology of new possibilities.
Conceptual development in ethnographic research
This seminar examines the way theory and ethnography relate to each other in the field and the way the encounter can generate productive concepts. Concepts that work as fresh lenses through which new dimensions of the field become apparent. The seminar will take the way the concept of domestication emerged and was developed throughout my work. 

Michele Lancione (University of Sheffield)

Michele Lancione is an urban ethnographer and activist interested in issues of marginality and diversity, homelessness, visual methods and radical politics. Having gained his PhD from Durham University, Michele worked at DIST (Turin), UTS (Sydney), the University of Cambridge and Cardiff University. He is now a permanent Senior Research Fellow at the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield. His works have been published in journals like EPD: Society and Space, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Environment and Planning A, Urban Studies, City, and Social & Cultural Geography among others. His first edited volume is entitled Rethinking Life at the Margins (Routledge, 2016), while his non-academic works include an ethnographic novel around homelessness (Il numero 1, Eris, 2011) and a full-length video documentary around forced evictions in Bucharest, Romania (A început ploaia/It started raining). Michele is also one of the founders of the forthcoming publication, the Radical Housing Journal.
Weird Exoskeletons: The Politics of Home in Underground Bucharest
The paper explores the politics of life underground in Bucharest, Romania, and its capacity to invent a home within an infrastructure, and overall socio-technical conditions, which for the many are a matter of uninhabitability. The paper focuses on a canal passing under Bucharest’s central train station, where a community of drug users and homeless people established its home for years. Relying on extensive ethnographic observations, photo-taking, and interviews undertaken within the premises of one of Bucharest’s underground canals, the paper traces and illustrates the socio-material entanglements characterizing life underground. This is an assemblage of bodies, veins, syringes, substances, and various relationships of power and affect, which speaks of drug addiction and extreme marginalization but also of a sense of belonging, reciprocal trustiness, and care. The goal of this work is to trace the emergence of a ‘home’ in the abnormal conditions of life in the tunnels of Gara de Nord and to highlight what that meant in terms of urban politics. The paper contributes to debates around homing practices at the margins of the urban, and it promotes a deeper understanding of the peculiar politics emerging from the assemblage of life underground in Bucharest.
Keywords: Home; Underground; Homelessness; Drug use; Marginality; Bucharest; Gara de Nord.
A început ploaia: Video-ethnography and research-activism in Bucharest, Romania
What can video-ethnography do? Can it be relevant at the urban margins and for whom? What are the temporalities and spaces of encounters that a committed video-ethnographic work is confronted with? The paper reflects upon the making of a two-years video-ethnographic project with evicted Roma people in Bucharest, Romania (2014-16). The aim is to provide provisional answers to some of the above questions, relying upon and expanding recent literature around research-activism and more established strands around situated and ‘committed’ forms of positionality. On the basis of the analysis of my documentary work with Roma people in Romania, the seminar discusses three orientations for what a committed form of video-ethnography can do at the urban margins: it can help to align contingencies; it can sustain alliances aimed at challenging the normalisation of expulsion; and it can allow for the composite ‘more-than-representation’ of everyday life at the margins. 

Maruska Svasek (Queen's University Belfast)

Maruška Svašek is Reader in Anthropology at the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast, and Fellow at the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. Her main research interests include materiality, migration, conflict and emotional dynamics. Major publications include Mixed Emotions (with K. Milton, Berg 2005), Anthropology, Art and Cultural Production (Pluto 2007), Emotions and Human Mobility (ed., Routledge 2012), Moving Subjects, Moving Objects (Berghahn 2012), Creativity in Transition (with B. Meyer, Berghahn 2016) and Ethnographies of Movement, Sociality and Space (with M. Komarova, Berghahn, August 2018).
Translocal Relatedness and Homing as Affective Practice and Movement
This lecture investigates the ways in which dispersed family members create (or fail to create) a sense of long-distance family life and home. It draws on theories of affect, space, sociality, materiality and kinship and builds on Janet Carsten’s conceptualisation of kinship as relatedness. The analysis employs the perspectives of ‘affective relationality’ and ‘translocal homing’ to understand how kin in different settings use communication technologies, artefacts and mutual visits to experience and imagine kin sociality and belonging. The entanglements are understood as mediated movements, not only across time and space, but also within and between ageing bodies and between bodies and material things.
Investigating Self-Narratives and People-Thing Dynamics: Autobiographical Interviewing and the Material Turn
In this seminar will scrutinise the possibilities and limitations of autobiographical interviewing methods and explore some of the ways in which we can research the interactions of people and things. You will be given some materials to work with, and are also invited to consider the (lack of) relevance of the methods for your own research.


The school is addressed to PhD students and postdocs across social sciences (max. 22 participants).

The fee for participation is Euro 350, inclusive of tuition, coffee breaks and lunches; travel and accommodation costs are not included.

To apply please submit your CV, a 500-word bionote (to be shared with other participants), a motivation letter and a short ethnographic research project (about 2,000 words long, including empirical contexts, focus and research questions) to

Deadline for applications extended to May 25, 2018.



The conference will take place at the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Trento (via Verdi, 26). The Department is located in the heart of the historic centre of Trento, just a short walk from the Cathedral (Piazza Duomo) and 10 minutes’ walk from the railway station.

See the map

Below you will find some indications on how to reach Trento.

By car or coach

You can reach Trento by the following roads:

  • Strada Statale dell'Abetone e del Brennero SS12;
  • Autostrada del Brennero - A22 motorway, phone (+39) 0461 980085; coming by A22 is necessary take the Trento Sud exit and follow the SS12 direction Trento centro;
  • Superstrada della Valsugana for those coming from Venice SS47;
  • Strada Statale 45 bis (Gardesana Occidentale) for those coming from Brescia.
By train

There are two main lines that reach Trento: the Brennero line (from Rome to Innsbruck) and the Valsugana line (from Venice to Trento).
Timetable details from can be seen on the following link: Ferrovie dello Stato

By plane

The closest airports to Trento are the following:

Verona Catullo Airport - 90 km: the airport has a shuttle bus service which takes to the railway station of Verona. It’s also possible to take a taxi directly from the airport to Trento, but if it will be rather expensive. If you are going by car take the motorway A22 from the entrance Verona nord.

Venezia Marco Polo - 125 km: the airport is connected to the nearby railway stations of Venice-Santa Lucia and Mestre-Venice by scheduled bus services. By car take the SS14 and continue on A27, take the exit direction Milano/Bologna and continue on A4. After 70 km take the exit Brennero/Verona and take the A22.

Milano Linate - 245 km: the shuttle service will take you to the Stazione Centrale of Milano, from this central station you can easily take the train to Trento (there is no direct train, it’s necessary to change train in Verona Porta Nuova, from where there is a train to Trento almost every hour).
By car follow direction to motorway A4 Milano/Venezia. After 100 km take the Peschiera exit and follow direction to A22 motorway.

Milano Malpensa – 300 km: the shuttle service is the same as at the Milano Linate.
By car take the Strada Statale SS336 direction A8 Milano. So take the motorway A8 and after 12 km take A4 motorway direction Venezia. After 100 km take the Peschiera exit and follow direction to A22 motorway.

Bolzano - 60 km: there is no shuttle bus service, but it’s possible to reach the public bus stop on foot, the bus will take you to the railway station in town, there is a direct train to Trento almost every half an hour.
if you are travelling by car just take the entrance Bolzano sud; after 45 km take the exit Trento nord and follow the SS12 direction centro.

City travel

The city has an efficient urban travel system (yellow and purple buses) run by Trentino Trasporti spa. Extra urban buses are run by the same company. If you visit the Trentino Trasporti office at the main railway station you can pick up a timetable “Guida ai trasporti del Trentino”.
Taxis can be caught anywhere in the city or booked on the phone number (+39) 0461 930002.

Further Information

The Trentino Region has a lot of interesting monuments situated on all the territory: museums, castles and other attractions. For further information visit

To find out more about the city of Trento visit



Paolo Boccagni, Ester Gallo, Serena Piovesan.