Guest Blog: Ethnomethodology/ CA bootcamp in Denmark

In spite of their divergent research paths, ethnomethodologists  and conversation analysts have much in common, and it’s good to see established members of the community offer joint workshops to the up-and-coming generation. Here Veronica González and Maria Vanessa aus der Wieschen give a lively report on the latest EM/CA “bootcamp”.

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Maria Vanessa aus der Wieschen

Dennis Day and Johannes Wagner organized a four-day Ethnomethodology/Conversation Analysis “bootcamp” for PhD students. Fourteen EMCA-interested students from Denmark, the UK, and Turkey were brave enough to attend despite the title of the course.

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Veronica González

The bootcamp was organized as a residential course, that is, the University of Southern Denmark rented a summer house in Skaastrup Strand for us to stay at. Upon arrival we only had little time to look at the in-house spa and into the huge fridges (one for food, one for beer) before the first lecture started. There were six lectures in total, spread over three days, each followed by student analysis workshops in which we were to apply the new knowledge.

Day 1:

Day 2:

Day 3:

The courses by Dennis and Johs on the first day were on an introductory level to form the foundation for the other courses.

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Conversation analytic Lego

Some of our personal highlights from day two were Maurice explaining collections not only by drawing an analogy to LEGO bricks but by actually giving us LEGO to let us tangibly experience making a collection, and Gitte moving like an AirDancer to embody her lecture on embodiment.


On the third day, Kristian dwelled upon activities that are primarily organized in the absence of talk. Then Rineke really challenged us to provide definitions of various “synonyms” of challenged interaction, to make clear that any label we give our work can be problematic and that what seem to be synonyms can actually mean something drastically different.

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Applied CA

While we were thinking about these definitions, she hung up posters with the names of the six different kinds of applied CA that Antaki identified in 2011. We were then to place a post-it with our project title on the poster of the field that we think our work contributes to, only to have it moved to another poster by a fellow student. The discussions on why we chose a particular kind of applied CA and why the other person thought our work could also fall into another field, and which consequences it would have if we identified with another kind of CA were very fruitful.

It would not have been a real EMCA bootcamp had we not held daily data sessions. As they say, EMCA is best learned in data sessions, even if some of our data sessions were held after dinner and lasted until midnight.

This PhD course really deserved to be called “bootcamp”; having lectures, analysis assignments, data sessions, and a reading group from early morning to late at night was definitely intense. Nonetheless, the friendly and informal atmosphere made this four-day long stay at a place full of EMCA nerds truly a fun experience. With lively discussions day and night even between lectures, while preparing Indian, Italian, and Turkish cuisine together, or while playing ping pong, no way we could leave the house without learning something new.

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The bootcampers on Turkish food night

We would like to thank the organizers and teachers of this course for putting so much work into teaching and challenging us, and helping us to advance our research.