ordinary life

as it happens

Eric Laurier - University of Edinburgh - Biography

Eric Laurier, Liz Stokoe

(Photo - Jonathan Potter)


Currently I am the PI on a project funded by Nissan Research with Barry Brown, Daniel Muñoz and Rebekah Miller on cross-cultural studies of car communication in traffic. There are a number of unfunded projects I have been working on: autonomous vehicles with Barry Brown; comics as research with Shari Shabeti, family mealtimes with Sally Wiggins. navigation in the outdoors with Tom Smith, Stuart Reeves and Ria Dunkley. Although officially completed, as is the way with university research projects, I continue to work on the Internet of Second Hand Things, funded by the EPSRC, with Chris Speed (PI), Mark Hartswood and Siobhan Magee and the principal investigator on 'Assembling the line: amateur & professional work, skills and practice in digital video editing', working together with Barry Brown & Ignaz Strebel the ESRC funded 'Habitable cars: the organisation of collective private transport' with Barry Brown & Hayden Lorimer.

Alongside this I organise the Scottish Ethnomethodology, Discourse, Interaction & Technology group (SEDIT) with Sue Widdicombe and various activities of the Cultural and Historical Geography Research Group at the School of Geosciences, Edinburgh. Previously I was the PI on 'The Cappuccino Community: Cafes and Civic Life in the Contemporary City', carried out with Chris Philo, and before that I had an Urban Studies Research Fellowship which allowed me to pursue research on community practices in the city. The latter drew on ethnographic fieldwork on neighborhoods and community in an Edinburgh suburb as part of the Living Memory Project. From 1997 onwards I was the principal researcher on an ESRC funded project: 'Meet You At Junction 17: a socio-technical and spatial study of the mobile office', again with Chris Philo as a co-applicant. In the past I ran the Scottish Ethnomethodology Reading Group with Stanley Raffel for seven years and data sessions at Glasgow & Edinburgh University with Barry Brown for seven years.

The early part of my education in human geography, cultural studies and the social sciences was in the brilliant, enthusiastic, friendly, and now gone, Department of Geography in Lampeter. There, I was supervised through my PhD by Chris Philo, Phil Crang, Mark Goodwin and Tim Cresswell. Cultural geography was emerging, turning around the bases on which human geography investigated the world. For my part I pursued the problems of representation, reflexivity and writing through experimenting with ways of writing the thesis itself, resulting in a hit and miss text that probably went a little too far. Far enough to come upon problems that could not be resolved by bending the conventions of representation.

There is a long section I should write here which takes me from cultural theory to ethnomethodology, let me just say, for the time being, that I was concerned with the ways in which voices that I heard, and practices that I noticed, during fieldwork were obscured, and sometimes plain trampled on, when I engaged them with theory. From what I could tell, and somewhat to my surprise given how it had been characterised by other social sciences, ethnomethodology offered the occasion for a re-marriage of the academic and the theoretical with the everyday and the practical.

Of late I have been increasingly influenced not just by the writings of the late Stanley Raffel but by his responses to and readings of the work of others. In that respect I have also come under the sway of Stanley Cavell, the American philosopher of ordinary language best known for his work on Wittgenstein: The Claim of Reason. That their names should coincide as closely as their work does is confusing for anyone that listens to me enthusing about either of them.