This special issue introduces readers to collaborative event ethnography (CEE), a method developed to support the ethnographic study of large global environmental meetings. CEE was applied by a group of seventeen researchers at the Tenth Conference of the Parties (COP10) to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) to study the politics of biodiversity conservation. In this introduction, we describe our interests in global environmental meetings as sites where the politics of biodiversity conservation can be observed and as windows into broader governance networks. We specify the types of politics we attend to when observing such meetings and then describe the CBD, its COP, challenges meetings pose for ethnographic researchers, how CEE responds to these challenges generally, and the specifics of our research practices at COP10. Following a summary of the contributed papers, we conclude by reflecting on the evolution of CEE over time.

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Author notes

* This research was supported by the US National Science Foundation (awards 1027194 and 1027201). We would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions. Collaborative event ethnography relies on collaboration in coordinating fieldwork, collecting and analyzing data, and thinking through meaning. This article reflects the efforts of the larger team working on site in Nagoya. The CBD COP10 CEE team is J. Peter Brosius, Lisa M. Campbell, Noella J. Gray, Kenneth I. MacDonald, Maggie Bourque, Catherine Corson, Juan Luis Dammert B., Eial Dujovny, Shannon M. Hagerman, Sarah Hitchner, Shannon Greenberg, Rebecca Gruby, Edward M. Maclin, Kimberly R. Marion Suiseeya, Deborah Scott, Daniel Suarez, and Rebecca Witter.