I am interested in the interfaces of bodies, objects, and spaces, entanglements of human and non-human actors, and multimodal explorations through the lens of the archive.
In inter- and transdisciplinary research and teaching, I am committed to activist*scholarship and feminist pedagogy.

︎ Website under continuous de:construction!

Back to


SNSF Project
Visual Communication
in Participatory Urban Planning Processes

Institute of Cultural Anthropology, University of Basel
Institute for Visual Communication, FHNW Basel

In the SNF project “Visual Communication in Participatory Urban Planning Processes” (Institute of Cultural Anthropology/ University of Basel, Institute for Visual Communication/ FHNW Basel), we devote particular attention to images as media, as artefacts, and as actors.

Emerging from this research and developing it further, the C.I.E.Lab is a collaborative research and action lab in which we explore, define and revisit what we refer to as “Icono-Ethnography” (Yildirim Tschoepe & Käser 2019)- an interdisciplinary methodology that incorporates methods from Cultural Anthropology and Visual Communication. The lab is intended as a place to revisit, develop, and critically reflect on theories and methods concerned with participatory processes that engage urban imagin(eer)ing as emancipatory practice, and with “participatory images” as media that facilitate negotiations over urban futures among a diverse range of actors. Images themselves become actors in this process as they have the potential to enable compromise, possibly even consensus, and, ideally, mutual understanding and alliances between actors who might not have come into dialogue otherwise. The workshops we co-organize with various groups are a platform for participants (including ourselves) to communicate (visually and verbally) what it means to be part of the city and how to envision (and realize) a more inclusionary urban space (for more, see www.cielab.ch).

Icono-ethnographic Methods

Among the icono-ethnographic methods engaged in the workshops, the Spatial/Conceptual Mosaic is a collaborative method to tease out, as the name proposes, spatial and/or conceptual issues the respective collaborators have posed earlier. Elements (images and image fragments) can be put into various relations as part of the mosaic, which allows to pose critical questions and discuss the narratives that arise from the juxtaposition of images - the inbetweens and the silences, as well as changes of context and content with new narratives and various possible interpretations.

The "Urban Mosaic," is one way to use the Spatial/Conceptual Mosaic. An example can be seen in the first image as a selection of mosaic tiles (image: Susanne Käser). It serves various purposes: it can be used an icebreaker as it moves the focus from the very personal to the narration over images; it also facilitates the formulation of topics relevant to the collaborating group; it offers participants to familiarize themselves with the available image material that will be used to create own urban visions or key topics for a discussion in the next step. For this, we offer square-shaped image tiles scattered on a large table, a small selection of which you can see in the image below. As everyone choses tiles and expresses their thoughts, participants also relate theirs to those of others. A mosaic-like map emerges from which key topics can be drawn and discussed collectively.

Image: CIELab, 2020

An adaptation of the Urban Mosaic for a virtual workshop done during the EASA 2020 conference (organizers: Aylin Tschoepe, Carolin Genz, Silvia Balzan) can be seen in the second image (screenshot). According to participants, the images helped them get over the discomfort of an empty table/ page, and gave each of us insights into each other’s research. As they contained moments from the field, the images began to convey a sense of being there. While they facilitated an ongoing conversation, the images triggered further interaction – through editing and moving the images themselves, but also through the digital drawing tools that, altogether, lead to a collective process of building narratives and further questions within and beyond the digital artifact. (more on the EASA Urban CoLab: https://urban-ethnography.com/2020/07/08/1481/).

Image: CIELab, 2020

︎︎︎ CIELab, Critical Icono-Ethnograhpy Lab