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Lada Dedić's art from her Self Portrait: Artist's Brain series


Denielle Elliott / Undisciplined Ethnography

I am an Associate Professor at York University in the Departments of Anthropology and Social Science. I hold a York Research Chair in Injured Minds.

I am currently the Director for the Science and Technology Studies Graduate Program and the Deputy Director of the Institute for Technoscience and Society. My research for the large part focuses on arts-based ethnography and the intersections of colonialism, medicine and science, and politics. I have conducted fieldwork in British Columbia (Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on HIV/AIDS, epidemiological surveillance and colonial health) and in Nairobi and Kisumu, Kenya (‘Safari Science’, experimental medicine, scientific infrastructure, & the politics of transnational science).


My current project entitled "Situated Neurology" explores the sensorial and affective dimensions of traumatic brain injuries. 

I was co-editor with Anna Harris of the #WritingLife Series with Somatosphere. 

Why UNDISCIPLINED ETHNOGRAPHY? I evoke the idea of undisciplined for its double (triple?) meaning. Undisciplined in the sense of being unruly, disruptive, and disorderly. I want to engage in and encourage a type of ethnography that colours outside the lines, that makes us uncomfortable, that is rebellious! I also want to engage in a sort of ethnography that is not limited to the discipline of Anthropology, but that borrows promiscuously from Feminist Affect Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Postcolonial Theory, Visual Studies, Sound Studies and Performance Studies; experimenting with multimodal genres and montage; an ethnography not bound by its disciplinary history or conventions.


For more information on my research and publications, see research.



Trained as a sociocultural anthropologist, my work explores the politics and everyday ethics of medicine, science, and humanitarian interventions in postcolonial and settler colonial contexts. I am also very interested in ethnographic writing. With Matthew Wolf-Meyer, I have co-edited the forthcoming collection Naked Fieldnotes (University of Minnesota Press). 

Since 2012, I have actively engaged in developing creative and art-based ethnographic strategies including multimedia installations, experimental genres of writing, and visual anthropology and as part of this I am one of the founding members (and was a co-curator until 2020) of the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography, a collaborative research collective dedicated to bridging social justice, creative arts, and ethnography both within and outside the academy. In 2017, we published an edited book, A different kind of ethnography: Imaginative practices and creative methodologies (University of Toronto Press) and a French translation with Laval University Press.

My research and publications to date have focused on three core areas: First, the social and political-economic asymmetries in colonial and postcolonial medicine and the consequences for Indigenous and postcolonial communities; second, the moral paradoxes embedded within ‘good intentioned’ interventions for these same communities; and third, the development of an arts-based, and undisciplined, approach in ethnography. My research interests have focused on the unintended consequences of a range of good intentioned interventions including Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) for HIV, PrEP clinical trials, inner city epidemiological surveillance, transnational science collaborations (global health), and securitization through medicine.


My teaching and mentoring reflect my research interests. I teach courses and hold workshops on ethnographic methods, writing, indigenous studies, science and technology studies and the social study of biomedicine.

I am currently accepting graduate students interested in the social study of neurosciences only.

Guidelines for my current students can be found here. 

Current graduate students

Jorge Daza, Supervisor, PhD program, in Department of Science and Technology Studies, September 2023 – continuing.

Jennifer Lindsay, Supervisor, MA program, in Department of Science and Technology Studies, September 2022 – continuing (PT).

Laura Flórez, Co-Advisor, Doctoral Student in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Institute of Geneva, June 2022 -- continuing.

Michelle Charette, Supervisor, Doctoral Student in Department of Science and Technology Studies, September 2019 – continuing.

Em Panetta, Committee Member, Doctoral Student in Department of Science and Technology Studies, September 2022 – continuing.

Guita Banan, Supervisor, Doctoral Student in Department of Science and Technology Studies, September 2022 – continuing.

Sydney Neuman, Supervisor, Doctoral Student in the Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies program at York University, September 2018 -- continuing.

Stephanie Voyer, Committee Member, Doctoral Student in the Social Anthropology program, March 2021 -- continuing.

Ingrid Bachner, Committee Member, Doctoral Student in the Gender, Feminism, and Women's Studies program, March 2021 -- continuing.  


Drew Belsky, Committee Member, Doctoral Student in Science and Technology Studies, 2016 - continuing.

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