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Review: Digital environments: Ethnographic perspectives across global online and offline spaces

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Budka, P. (2018). [Review of the book Digital environments: Ethnographic perspectives across global online and offline spaces, by U. U. Frömming, S. Köhn, S. Fox & M. Terry]. Anthropos, 113.2018(1). Forthcoming.

The edited volume “Digital Environments: Ethnographic Perspectives Across Global Online and Offline Spaces” is a collection of 16 essays by students and graduates of the M.A. Programme in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Free University Berlin. This is the first special feature of the book. The second is the anthropological and ethnographic perspective from which the individual texts discuss a diversity of digital technologies, platforms, services as well as related sociocultural phenomena, events and practices. As Sarah Pink in the book’s foreword notes, these texts and the underlying projects “focus on central issues of the discipline … through the prism of visual and media anthropology” (p. 10). Being not part of the anthropological mainstream, this visual and media anthropology perspective holds the potential of providing exiting new insights in digital culture and our increasingly digitalised societies. The digital ethnography perspective, on the other hand, focuses on “the ways in which technologies have become inseparable from other materialities and human activities” including ethnographic fieldwork, as Urte Undine Frömming, Steffen Köhn, Samantha Fox and Mike Terry note in the introduction chapter (p. 15).
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Lecture “Introduction to Cultural & Social Anthropology”

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In 2017, the lecture “Introduction to Cultural and Social Anthropology” at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna is organized by Philipp Budka, Wolfgang Kraus & Elke Mader and discusses the following topics:

  • Introduction & Discussion: Why Social & Cultural Anthropology? What is Social & Cultural Anthropology?
  • Colonialism & Post-colonialism (& Cinema/Film)
  • Globalization: Theoretical Discourse
  • Globalization & Migration
  • Tourism
  • Economy & Subsistence
  • Material Culture & Consumption
  • Nature & Environment
  • Social Organization & Kinship (Wolfgang Kraus)
  • Ritual & Mythology (Elke Mader)
  • Religion & World Views
  • Media & Communication Technologies / Visual Culture
  • Film: „Oh, What a Blow That Phantom Gave Me!“ & Discussion

The lecture is connected to the preparatory lecture “Propaedeutic Social & Cultural Anthropology” (Wolfgang Kraus) which includes basics such as:

  • The Cultural and the Social
  • Diversity
  • Ethnocentrism
  • Social & Cultural Anthropology Methodology/Methods
  • Universalism & Relativism
  • History of Social & Cultural Anthropology

Required Reading

  • General: Eriksen, Thomas H. 2010 or 2015. Small Places, Large Issues. An Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology. London: Pluto Press.
  • Colonialism: Wolf, Eric R. 1986. Die Völker ohne Geschichte: Europa und die andere Welt seit 1400. Frankfurt: Campus-Verlag, pp. 192-227.
  • Gender: Nöbauer, Herta. 2014. His/Her-Story war einmal: Sex/Gender–Systeme im historischen und regionalen Vergleich. In: Karl R. Wernhart and Werner Zips (Hg.). Ethnohistorie. Rekonstruktion und Kulturkritik. Eine Einführung. 4. überarbeitete und aktualisierte Auflage. Wien: Promedia, pp. 204-218.
  • Media & Visual Culture: Murdock, Graham and Sarah Pink. 2005. Picturing Practices: Visual Anthropology and Media Ethnography. In: Eric W. Rothenbuhler and Mihai Coman (Hg.). Media Anthropology. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE, pp. 149-161.
  • Migration:
    1) Armbruster, Heidi. 2009. Anthropologische Ansätze zu Migration. In: Maria Six-Hohenbalken and Jelena Tosic (Hg.). Anthropologie der Migration: Theoretische Grundlagen und interdisziplinäre Aspekte. Wien: Facultas.WUV, pp. 52-69.
    2) Tošić, Jelena, Kroner, Gudrun and Susanne Binder. 2009. Anthropologische Flüchtlingsforschung. In: Maria Six-Hohenbalken and Jelena Tošić (Hg.). Anthropologie der Migration: Theoretische Grundlagen und interdisziplinäre Aspekte. Wien: Facultas WUV, pp. 110-126.

Paper: Internet for remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario

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Budka, P. (2017). Internet for remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario. Paper at “3rd CoRe Workshop – Mobility and Remoteness: What is the Connection?“, Vienna, Austria: University of Vienna, 26-27 May. Full Paper (PDF)

Introduction

In 1994, the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Kuhkenah Network (KO-KNET) began to develop and provide internet infrastructures and services for the remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Public and private institutions have been reluctant to invest in this “high cost serving area” with no year-round road access, where residents have to travel by plane for medical treatment or to meet with relatives and where people have to move to southern towns to continue their high school education or to find work. In close cooperation with the region’s First Nation communities, KO-KNET has built local broadband internet infrastructures to provide services such as cell phone communication, e-health, online learning, videoconferencing, and personal website hosting. Overall aim of this initiative has been to give people a choice to stay in their remote home communities.

For my first field trip to Northwestern Ontario in 2006, I decided not to fly but to take the train from Toronto to Sioux Lookout, Northwestern Ontario’s transportation hub. This ride with “The Canadian”, which connects Toronto and Vancouver, took about 26 hours and demonstrated very vividly the vastness of Ontario. I could not believe that I had spent more than an entire day on a train without even leaving the province. Finally, I arrived at Sioux Lookout, where I would be working with KO-KNET, one of the world’s leading indigenous internet organizations.

After my first day at the office, KO-KNET’s coordinator wanted to show me something. We jumped in his car and drove to the outskirts of the town where he stopped in front of a big satellite dish. Only through this dish, he explained, the remote First Nation communities in the North can be connected to the internet. I was pretty impressed, but had no idea how this should really work.

While the satellite dish was physically visible to me, the underlying infrastructure of interconnected digital information and communication systems was not. In the weeks and months to follow, I learned about the technical aspects of internet networks and broadband connectivity, about hubs, switches, and cables, about towers, points of presence, and loops. And I found out that internet via satellite might look impressive, but is actually the last resort and a very expensive way to establish and maintain internet connectivity for remote and isolated communities.

KO-KNET satellite dish, Sioux Lookout
KO-KNET satellite dish, Sioux Lookout

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Seminar: Indigenous Media 2017

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Seminar “Indigenous Media” for the MA Program in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Free University Berlin.

Course Description

“Indigenous media matters because indigenous people do.”
(Wortham 2013: 218)

Indigenous media can be broadly defined as media and forms of media expression conceptualized and produced by indigenous people. From an anthropological perspective, indigenous media can be understood as cultural product and process that are both closely connected to the construction, expression and transmission of identity. Reflecting thus indigenous people’s history as well as contemporary sociocultural and political situations. By (strategically) inserting their own narratives in the dominant media landscape – may this be accomplished through films, TV and radio programs, or websites – indigenous people also utilize media technologies as means for social change and political transformation. Indigenous media-making practices have thus become part of the “ongoing struggles for Indigenous recognition and self-determination” and can therefore be understood as a form of cultural activism (e.g., Ginsburg 2000: 30).

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Vortrag: Medien und Literalität in der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie

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Budka, P. 2017. Medien und Literalität in der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie: (Digitale) Medienpraktiken aus kulturvergleichender Perspektive. Vortrag im Workshop “Dark Side of Literacy” am Bundesinstitut für Erwachsenenbildung, Strobl, Salzburg, 20. April 2017. (PDF)

Inhalt:
Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie (KSA)
Medien in der KSA
Literalität in der KSA
„Moderne Oralität“
Digitale & Soziale Medien in der KSA

Free video analysis tools

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Free video (& audio) analysis and transcription tools, partly collected via the VISCOM list serv.

CfP: Anthropologies of media and mobility

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Anthropologies of Media and Mobility: Theorizing movement and circulations across entangled fields

An International Workshop organized by the Anthropology and Mobility Network and the Media Anthropology Network (EASA) in collaboration with Locating Media (University Siegen) and a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School (University of Cologne)

University of Cologne, Germany
14-16 September 2017

This international workshop seeks to theorize the relationship between media and mobility. While mobility has been defined as movement ascribed with meaning, one might in similar fashion define media as meaning ascribed with movement. Interrogating the linkages between media and mobility can enable more thorough understandings of how various power structures produce, transform and reproduce social, material and discursive orders. People, devices, and data are increasingly on the move – movements that may transgress borders and boundaries, but which are also integral to the constitution and regulation of the barriers themselves. The movement of people triggers new imaginaries of territories and social spaces, which circulate through media, questioning and forging new ties between people, signs and things. More broadly, the mobilisation of tangible and intangible things demands a reconceptualization of what a ‘thing’ is, what constitutes the human, and what defines human collectivity. In such circumstances, reimagining circulations through the lens of media and mobility becomes an important step towards understanding current socio-cultural and political changes. While this lens has been applied broadly within anthropological research, its theoretical consequences merit further investigation and discussion. 

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Digital visual anthropology

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This is a selection of digital visual anthropology resources which were collected via the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Visual Anthropology Network’s (VANEASA) mailing list.

Online resources & projects:

Literature:

  • Aston, J., Gaudenzi, S., & Rose, M. (Eds.). (2017). I-Docs: The evolving practices of interactive documentary. New York: Wallflower Press. Forthcoming.
  • Menzies, C. R. (2015). In our grandmothers’ garden: An indigenous approach to collaborative film. In A. Gubrium, A., K. Harper, & M. Ortanzez (Eds.), Participatory visual and digital research in action. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  • Pink, S. (2011). Digital visual anthropology: Potentials and challenges. In M. Banks & J. Ruby (Eds.), Made to be seen: Perspectives on the history of visual anthropology. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Walter, F. & Grasseni, C. (Eds.). (2014). Anthrovision. Special issue “Digital visual engagements”, available at https://anthrovision.revues.org/1077

Digital ethnography

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Digital ethnography – a selection of resources

e-Seminars of the EASA Media Anthropology Network:

Literature:

Ethnography in virtual worlds:

  • Boellstorff, et al. (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ethnography and digital and social media:

  • Hjorth, L., et al. (Eds.). (2017). The Routledge Companion to digital ethnography, New York: Routledge. Forthcoming.
  • Miller, D., et al. (2016). How the world changed social media. London: UCL Press. http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1474805/1/How-the-World-Changed-Social-Media.pdf
  • Pink, S., et al. (2016). Digital ethnography: Principles and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Postill, J., & Pink, S. (2012). Social media ethnography: The digital researcher in a messy web. Media International Australia, 145(1), 123-134. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1329878X1214500114
  • Sanjek, R., & Tratner, S. W. (Eds.). (2016). eFieldnotes: The makings of anthropology in the digital world. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Blog posts:

Research centres:

The value of comparison (in anthropology)

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Peter van der Veer (2013: 11) on the “comparative advantage of anthropology”:

1) anthropology offers a critique of the universalization of Western models
2) holistic approach to social life offers a greater potential for social science than the analysis of large data
3) anthropological holism implies the drawing of larger inferences from the intensive study of fragments of social life
4) anthropological contribution to the study of embodied practice emphasizes the social and provides a critique of sociobiological determinism

Van der Veer, P. (2013). The value of comparison. Transcript of the Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture given on November 13, http://www.haujournal.org/vanderVeer_TheValueOfComparison_LHML_Transcript.pdf

Barack Obama names two new National Monuments important to Native Americans

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from The Huffington Post:

The White House designated two new national monuments on Wednesday, one in Utah and the other in Nevada, that will protect important Native American cultural sites and continue the president’s legacy of environmental stewardship far beyond the end of his term. …

“Our connection with this land is deeply tied to our identities, traditional knowledge, histories, and cultures, …”

Internet Archive builds archive copy in Canada

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From http://blog.archive.org/2016/11/29/help-us-keep-the-archive-free-accessible-and-private/ by B. Kahle:

… On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change.

For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions.

It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase.

Throughout history, libraries have fought against terrible violations of privacy—where people have been rounded up simply for what they read.  At the Internet Archive, we are fighting to protect our readers’ privacy in the digital world. …

Internet Archive Canada and National Security Letter in the news: roundup

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more: https://archive.org/

Review: Handbuch der Medienethnographie

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Budka, P. 2017. Review of Bender, C. & M. Zillinger (eds.). Handbuch der Medienethnographie. Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 2015. 442 pp. Paideuma, 63: in print.

Online Version

Der Sammelband „Handbuch der Medienethnographie“ bietet einen Einblick in ein aufstrebendes und im deutschen Sprachraum noch zu wenig beachtetes Forschungsfeld. Ethnographie wird in diesem Buch vor allem als Methode in der qualitativen Medienforschung verstanden und die Autorinnen und Autoren, allesamt erfahren in der ethnographischen Feldforschung, wurden von der Herausgeberin Cora Bender und dem Herausgeber Martin Zillinger aufgefordert individuell zu reflektieren, „wie sie selbst im Feld vorgegangen sind, um Medien und Medienpraktiken zu erforschen“ (xi). Diese Reflexion über die eigene Forschungspraxis ist laut Bender und Zillinger charakteristisch für die Ethnologie als „ethnographische Königsdisziplin“ (xii). Mittels dichter Beschreibungen aus unterschiedlichen ethnographischen Forschungsfeldern will der Band mit seinen Beiträgen auch die Verbindung zwischen Empirie und Theorie in der Ethnologie in den Blick nehmen. Schwerpunkte bleiben dabei die subjektiven Erfahrungen der Feldforscherinnen und Feldforscher als Fremde, die unter spezifischen Bedingungen in bestimmten Lokalitäten in Austausch mit Menschen treten, um die entsprechenden Interaktionsprozesse schließlich zu interpretieren.

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Lecture: Visuelle Anthropologie in Zeiten zunehmender Digitalisierung

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Vorlesung “Visuelle Anthropologie in Zeiten zunehmender Digitalisierung“,
Wintersemester 2016/17, am Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie der Universität Wien
Philipp Budka

Ziele

Die Lehrveranstaltung gibt einen Überblick zur Visuellen Anthropologie und diskutiert die Bedeutung sowie die Entwicklung dieser kultur- und sozialanthropologischen Subdisziplin in Zeiten zunehmender Digitalisierung. Studierende erhalten so einen Einblick in die historische, gegenwärtige und zukünftige Relevanz der Visuellen Anthropologie.

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Concept map: Ethnographie des Cyberspace (nach Ackermann, 2000)

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Diese Concept Map visualisiert die wesentlichsten Punkte einer “Ethnographie des Cyberspace” nach Ackermann (2000).

“Für die Ethnologie sind die sozialen Phänomene des Cyberspace insofern von Interesse, als sie auf der theoretischen Ebene zu einer Auseinandersetzung mit traditionellen Konzepten von Sozialität … herausfordern und auf der empirischen Ebene die Flexibilität und Variabilität der Methode … einfordern” (S. 289).

A. Ackermann. 2000. Das virtuelle Universum der Identität. Überlegungen zu einer Ethnographie des Cyberspace. In S. M. Schomburg-Scherff & B. Heintze (Hg.) Die offenen Grenzen der Ethnologie. Schlaglichter auf ein sich wandelndes Fach. Frankfurt/Main: Lembeck. S. 276-290.

ethographie_cyberspace

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