AO: The analysts note a tension in that collaboration is becoming a demand for humanities scholars even as many types of research audits continue to predominantly consider individual outputs. This analysis is very strong at the meso level, focusing on power differentials within and beyond. They are especially attentive to the material components of collaboration and extend notions of “collaboration” beyond just tech or human but to the human-material and material-material.
AO: The analysts make an important point that others have missed - that some of the collaborators within an endeavor can become marginalized through the denigration of certain kinds of expertise, since “power structures both within and beyond the immediate interactions can lead to the work of one or more collaborators being reduced or going uncredited, and to the detriment of their institutional and subject standing” (15). This is an important nuance and distinct from the point that many have made about the institutional disincentives to collaborate (which favor individual publications and outputs). This point highlights the differential stakes and gains from a collaborative formation. I believe this could be the “discursive risk” in the Matsutake group, during which, as I was reading, I could not help but muse about how, despite the seeming egalitarian intention, Anna Tsing seems to have become more well-known for the group’s work, “benefiting” the most from the collaborative endeavor?
AO: Analysts note the importance of materiality in thinking about DH collaboration, highlighting for example the importance of hyperlinks to challenge default grammars of the book genre and encouraging networked reading.
AO: This example of collaboration would fit under what Matsutake Group called intimate co-authorship (on the opposite spectrum of “Big Science”). They spend the essay reflecting on the nature of their collaboration and note at the end that the endeavor has shown them “some of what had been carefully, though unintentionally, kept unspoken when we began has now been said.” (557), in other words, making the implicit explicit. Their nano analysis is strongest as they reflect on what makes their collaboration work so well (their shared political and intellectual commitements). They see collaboration as solidarity and agreement. Theirs is the only piece I’ve seen that touches on sexuality as part of their analysis. But they avoid the mention of race. They pay attention and document their bodily practices to collaborative co-author works together but do not discuss “data” explicitly. Given their disciplines (English), they do not conduct fieldwork together.
AO: This 2009 co-authored article offers a “research in progress” report by the different authors seeking to bring about conversation about how social cultural anthropology (dis)incentivizes collaboration. The analysts are especially strong in their nano and meta analyses, highlighting how their notion of collaboration differs from other works they have reviewed (they hold that collaboration should enable multivocality as a productive outcome of collaborations with each other whereas most other works aims towards consensus. However, notably, while they are very reflective on their research processes and experiments, they do not mention the data and technical infrastructures that undergird their collaboration.
AO: After reading Griffin and Hayler (2018) (after this paper), I also noted that despite the collective's egalitarian intentions, Anna Tsing seems to have become more well-known for the group’s work, raising questions about the evenness in distribution of the group's collaborative efforts. Griffin and Hayler note that collaborators within an endeavor can become marginalized through the denigration of certain kinds of expertise, since “power structures both within and beyond the immediate interactions can lead to the work of one or more collaborators being reduced or going uncredited, and to the detriment of their institutional and subject standing” (15). This is an important nuance and distinct from the point that many have made about the institutional disincentives to collaborate (which favor individual publications and outputs), highlighting the differential stakes and gains from a collaborative formation.
AO: This editorial intro by Fortun and Cherkasky focuses largely on the meta, nano and practice (micro) levels of conceptualizing “counter-expertise”.
Christine Hegel is primarily concerned about the missed potential of improvised collaboration between peers during the process of data analysis: “A model of collaborative work in which we listen and respond in real time and think through one another’s data in unfinished states, whether in the field or in lab/studio environments (as opposed to symposia or workshops, where we share mostly finished work), could enrich how we produce knowledge and make our concepts portable.”
Thus she is not trying to think through the mechanics/dynamics/politics of collaboration, or what differentiates successful from unsuccessful attempts to collaborate. Rather, she is calling anthropologists to adopt a specific “improvisational” breed of collaboration during data analysis that she characterizes at “yes, and.” She argues that this manner of collaboration is often employed between the researcher and their interlocutors during data production, but not between researchers during the data analysis phase. She also notes an absence of collaboration during the dissemination phase as interactions at this stage are typically non-improvisational (in the case of publications and peer reviews) or non-collaborative (in the case of Q&A sessions). That is, neither case follows the “yes, and” model. The other phases of the research process that Angela and I have identified are not included in this analysis. Yet, given that the topic of this CA series is “collaborative analytics,” it is understandable that the focus is limited.
As pointed out by the commenter, Mark Kramer, these practices are alive and well within the Global North. Established scholars often abuse graduate students and junior scholars in much the same way Bouka describes.
AO: Contrary to much of the development literature I have been reading which emphasizes the normative value of collaboration as empowering and benefiting, this piece highlights difference and potential for marginalization even within the project of “collaboration.” The analysts focus heavily on the meta and meso levels of analysis (asking questions largely at the level of the “organization although they define organization not just in the narrow sense of the word but also as broader discourse like feminism). They also conduct analysis at the level of edxo, working out the expertise and “counter-expertise” relied upon in different collaborative formations.
Star and Griesemer do make explicit the fact that they are presenting and analyzing a case where the collaboration was notably successful. They also make sure to note that boundary objects are simply one means of facilitating collaboration. Others are less voluntary. “The production of boundary objects is one means of satisfying these potentially conflicting sets of concerns. Other means include imperialist imposition of representations, coercion, silencing and fragmentation” (Star and Griesemer 1989, 413). In footnote 66, they acknowledge that they were made aware of this discursive gap/risk by an external reviewer: “We are grateful to an anonymous referee for drawing our attention to the limits of the cooperation model, and the importance of conflict and authority in science-making.”
Based on this acknowledgement, however, I am not sure that the authors have paid enough attention to the degree that these elements of conflict are present in the situation they describe, even if they are attenuated to be made more tolerable. Likewise, I am still wondering if these scholars are arguing that boundary objects are the only “voluntary-ish” means of establishing collaboration/cooperation across social worlds. And if they are, whether or not they are being too hasty.
Despite claiming to have been the first to combine Galison’s concept of “trading zone” with that of Star’s “boundary object,” Gorman seems to be privileging a consensus model, which is the exact model that boundary objects were intended to obviate. To what extent can “adversarial” relationships in research be productive?
AO: The analysts are thinking about “collaboration” as “cooperation.” They note severally the growing common language which is facilitating “more and more collaboration and cross-fertilization” (391). Their analysis largely centers on the practice level - noting how psychologists and economists are increasingly working together. They are missing much macro analysis although they do suggest that greater collaboration between economists and psychologists can lead to better policy and “efficiency of interventions” (390).