From Participant Observation to the Observation of Social Distancing: Teaching Ethnography, Blogging and University Education during the Pandemic


  • Dr. Eleni Sideri Assistant Professor University of Macedonia Dept. of Balkan, Slavic, and Oriental Studies
  • Dr. Elina Kapetanaki Postdoc Researcher, Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece



This article draws from a collaborative blog Our Quarantine Diaries created during the first COVID-19 confinement in Greece in 2020. In a context of sharing, participation, and solidarity, the blog aimed to facilitate   an online/synchronous shared space between students and educators during this period of social distancing. The blog was a way to experiment and reflect through an ethnography of the ‘every day’ to capture aspects of our experiences in quarantine and communicate them to one another. Through the blog we attempted to trace how participant observation can help us understand this new condition of social distancing, using (self)observation, memory and imagination to grasp experience. The result was eighteen multimodal recordings consisting of visual, sonic, musical and verbal information. By the end of the process, we realized that the experiment helped us, if not to overcome, then to engage and to a degree, ‘exercise’ the fear of this new type of ‘evil’ through digital communication, ethnographic observation and anthropological analysis. In this article, we reflect on the digital aspects of the affective and emotional modalities of teaching/doing ethnography via the use of Our Quarantine Diaries blog during this unusual time.