Transmedia as experimental ethnography

The Exit Zero Project, deindustrialization, and the politics of nostalgia

by Christine J. Walley

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How might “transmedia” approaches—or working across media—fit into histories of textual and visual innovation within anthropology, and what might they contribute to the discipline in the current moment? I explore this question through the Exit Zero Project, which includes a book, documentary film, and planned interactive website that examine the impact of deindustrialization on Southeast Chicago and the relationship between industrial job loss and expanding class inequalities in the United States. While the book and film take an “autoethnographic” approach, the website is based on collaboration with a local museum. I argue that transmedia ethnography both provokes new research questions and supports a growing interest in public anthropology by offering diverse spaces for engagement with subjects and audiences.