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Report: Media Anthropology Network activities at the 14th EASA Biennial Conference

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Report on EASA Media Anthropology Network activities at the 14th EASA Biennial Conference, Milan, 20-23 July 2016
by Philipp Budka

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Panel: “Media anthropology’s legacies and concerns” @ EASA 2016 Conference Milan

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The EASA Media Anthropology Network’s panel “Media anthropology’s legacies and concerns” at the 14th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) conference in Milan (20-23 July, 2016) includes the following papers:

  • Alberto Micali & Nicolò Pasqualini (University of Lincoln): Excavating the centrality of materiality for a post-human ‘anthropomediality’: an ecological approach
  • John McManus (University of Oxford): Media anthropology and the ‘ludic turn’
  • Philipp Budka (University of Vienna): Media anthropology’s legacies and concerns in digital times
  • Erkan Saka (Istanbul Bilgi University): In the intersection of anthropology’s disciplinary crisis and emergence of internet studies
  • Balazs Boross (Erasmus University Rotterdam): Television culture and the myth of participation: (re)making media rituals
  • Heloisa Buarque de Almeida (University of Sao Paulo): Politics of meanings of gender violence in Brazil
  • Richard MacDonald (Goldsmiths, University of London): Moving image projection, sacred sites and marginalised publics: the ritual economy of outdoor cinema in Thailand
  • Jonathan Larcher (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales): The politics of digital visual culture in Romania: from a digital ethnography to a historical media anthropology

Find the paper abstracts at: http://nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2016/panels.php5?PanelID=4286

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Visual/Media/Digital Anthropology at 14th EASA Conference

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Here is a list of panels at the 14th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference entitled “Anthropological legacies and human futures” (Milan, 20-23 July 2016, #EASA2016) which deal with visual and digital media technologies and related issues. If you are interested to participate to one of those panels, please keep in mind that the deadline for paper abstract submissions is 15 February and that you have to be member of EASA.

Panels are listed in order of appearance on the conference website. If I missed relevant panels, please let me know.

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CfP: “Media anthropology’s legacies and concerns”

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The EASA Media Anthropology Network is organizing a panel entitled “Media anthropology’s legacies and concerns” at the 14th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) conference in Milan (20-23 July, 2016). Please find the detailed call for papers below. To propose a paper, please navigate to http://nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2016/panels.php5?PanelID=4286 and http://www.easaonline.org/conferences/easa2016/cfp.shtml
Deadline for paper proposal submissions is February 15th.

Media anthropology’s legacies and concerns
(Media Anthropology Network)

Convenors
Philipp Budka (University of Vienna)
John Postill (RMIT University Melbourne)
Elisenda Ardevol (UOC, Barcelona)

In line with the theme of the 14th EASA conference the EASA Media Anthropology Network panel seeks to put fundamental concerns of media anthropology back into the centre of attention. Central themes of media anthropology have already been identified and discussed in earlier works: e.g. the mediation of power and conflict, media related forms of production and consumption, the relationship between media and religion, and the mediation of knowledge and forms of expression (e.g. Askew & Wilk 2002, Ginsburg et al. 2002, Peterson 2003, Rothenbuhler & Coman 2005). These topics can be connected to questions about hierarchies, power relationships, norms and political agency in media contexts; the materiality of media (technologies), exchange and reciprocity, media work; media rituals and the ritualization of media practices and events; the construction of histories and traditions in relation to media practices and the meanings of media communication for oral culture(s).

By (re-)focusing on such topics in a contemporary context, this panel invites contributions also to discuss broader questions. What has been “the point of media anthropology” as an anthropological subdiscipline and as an interdisciplinary field of research (Postill & Peterson 2009)? What are media anthropology’s legacies so far and what are its historical roots? What role does ethnography play in the anthropology of media and how has this relationship changed from a methodological and epistemological perspective? Thus, this panel contributes to the constitution of media anthropology as one of anthropology’s most thriving subdisciplines. Secondly, it adds to the understanding of media anthropology’s legacies, epistemologies, theories, methodologies and possible futures.

Askew, K., Wilk, R. (eds.) 2002. The anthropology of media: A reader. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Ginsburg, F., Abu-Lughod, L., Larkin, B. (eds.) 2002. Media worlds: Anthropology on new terrain. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Peterson, M. A. 2003. Anthropology and mass communication. Media and myth in the new millennium. New York & Oxford: Berghahn.
Postill, J., Peterson, M. A. 2009. What is the point of media anthropology? Social Anthropology 17(3): 334-344.
Rothenbuhler, E., Coman, M. (eds.) 2005. Media Anthropology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Workshop: “Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie des Sports”

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Workshop “Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie des Sports” bei den 10. Tage der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie,
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie der Universität Wien
Freitag, 24. April 2015, von 09:30 bis 13:00 im Seminarraum D

organisiert von Stefan Heissenberger (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) und Philipp Budka (Universität Wien)

In dem wegweisenden Artikel “Sport, Modernity, and the Body” betonen Nico Besnier und Susan Brownell (2012), dass eine Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie des Sports zu einem bessern Verständnis einer zunehmend globalisierten Welt beitragen kann. Hinsichtlich der ethnologischen und kultur- und sozialanthropologischen Fachgeschichte, kommt dem Phänomen Sport allerdings nur eine äußerst marginale Rolle zu. Erst ab Mitte der 1980er Jahre konnte sich im anglophonen Raum eine Anthropology of Sport als kleine Subdisziplin formieren. Nun scheint auch im deutschsprachigen Raum das Interesse an diesem Thema stetig zu wachsen. Dies drückt sich neben einem Anstieg von einschlägigen Fachpublikationen, auch in wissenschaftlichen Veranstaltungen aus, wie etwa der Konferenz Anthropology of European Football in Wien 2013 oder dem Panel Die Wahrheit liegt auf dem Platz auf der DGV-Tagung in Mainz 2013. Mit unserem Workshop wollen wir dieser
Entwicklung ein weiteres Forum bieten.

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Paper: Indigenous futures and digital infrastructures

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Budka, P. 2014. Indigenous futures and digital infrastructures: How First Nation communities connect themselves in Northwestern Ontario. Paper at “13th Biennial Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)”, Tallinn, Estonia: Tallinn University, 31 July – 3 August.

Introduction

“Now […] if the Aboriginal People could […], retain their tradition, take the technology and go that way in the future. That would be good.”
(Community Development Coordinator and Educational Director, Bearskin Lake First Nation, 2007)

For my first field trip to Northwestern Ontario in 2006, I decided to take the train from Toronto to Sioux Lookout instead of flying. This ride with “the Canadian”, which connects Toronto and Vancouver, took me about 26 hours and demonstrated very vividly the vastness of Ontario. At some point, I could not believe that I have been spending more than an entire day on a train without even leaving the province. But finally I arrived at Sioux Lookout, Northwestern Ontario’s transportation hub, where I would be working with the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Kuhkenah Network (KO-KNET), one of the world’s leading indigenous internet organization.

After my first day at the office, KO-KNET’s coordinator told me that he wants to show me something. So 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 concrete idea how this really works. So while the satellite dish was physically visible to me, the underlying infrastructure was not. During my stay, I learned more about the technical aspects of internet networks and connectivity, about hubs, switches and cables, and about towers and loops. And I learned that internet via satellite might look impressive, but is actually the last resort and the most expensive way to establish internet connectivity. I also began to realize how important organizational partnerships and collaborative projects are and what important role social relationships across institutional boundaries play. In short: I learned about the infrastructure which is actually necessary to finance, provide and maintain internet access and use. Infrastructure, KO-KNET’s coordinator told me “really defines what you can do and what you can’t do” (KO-KNET coordinator 2007). And this has fundamental consequences for the futures of the region’s indigenous people.

Within this paper I am going to discuss digital infrastructures and technologies in the geographical and sociocultural contexts of indigenous Northwestern Ontario. By introducing the case of KO-KNET I analyse (1) how internet infrastructures act as facilitators of social relationships and (2) how First Nations people actively make their (digital) futures by taking control over the creation, distribution and uses of information and communication technologies (ICT), such as broadband internet. This study is part of a digital media anthropology project that was conducted for five years, including ethnographic fieldwork in Northwestern Ontario and in online environments.

In media and visual anthropology, anthropologists are, among other things of course, interested in how indigenous, disfranchised and marginalized people have started to talk back to structures of power that neglect their political, cultural and economic needs and interests by producing and distributing their own media technologies (e.g., Ginsburg 1991, 2002b, Michaels 1994, Prins 2002, Turner 1992, 2002). To “underscore the sense of both political agency and cultural intervention that people bring to these efforts”, Faye Ginsburg (2002a: 8, 1997) refers to these media practices as “cultural activism”. “Indigenized” media technologies are providing indigenous people with possibilities to make their voices heard, to network and connect, to distribute information, to revitalize culture and language, and to become politically engaged and active (Ginsburg 2002a, 2002b). Particularly digital media technologies offer a lot of these possibilities to marginalized people (e.g., Landzelius 2006a).

Text (PDF)

Paper: Football fan communities and identity construction

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Budka, P., Jacono, D. 2013. Football fan communities and identity construction: Past and present of “Ultras Rapid” as sociocultural phenomenon. Paper at “Kick It! The Anthropology of European Football” Conference, 25-26 October 2013.

Introduction

Eduardo Archetti (1992: 232) argues that “football is neither a ritual of open rebellion nor the much mentioned opium of the masses. It is a rich, complex, open scenario that has to be taken seriously”. Archetti’s argument is in line with the most recent research in fan and football fan culture (e.g. Giulianotti & Armstrong 1997, Gray, Sandvoss & Harrington 2007). Because to study fans and fandom means ultimately to study how culture and society works.

In this paper we are going to discuss, within the framework of an anthropology of football, selected aspects of a special category of football fans: the ultras. By analysing the history and some of the sociocultural practices of the largest Austrian ultra group – “Ultras Rapid Block West 1988” – the paper aims to show how individual and collective fan identities are created in everyday life of football fan culture.

“Ultras no fans!” is a slogan that is being found among ultra groups across Europe. Despite this clear “emic” statement of differentiation between “normal” football fans and “ultras”, ultras are, at least from a research perspective, basically fans. So we begin our examinations in the phenomenon of “Ultras Rapid” by briefly discussing anthropological and ethnographic research in football and football fans. We then set forth to present selected characteristics of SK Rapid Wien’s largest ultra group that is also the oldest still active ultra movement in the German-speaking countries.

The authors themselves are fans of SK Rapid Wien and have been following the club and its fan culture for several decades (e.g. Jacono 2014). Building on ethnographic fieldwork, including participant observation, historical and archival studies, this paper intends to contribute to the anthropological and ethnographic understanding of the sociocultural phenomenon of football fan culture.

Text (PDF)

Presentation: cyberactivism = cultural activism

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At the 2nd UnlikeUs conference in Amsterdam, I gave a talk on cyberactivism, with KO-Knet and MyKnet.org as examples for the indigenous case.

Budka, Philipp. 2012. Indigenous cyberactivism: the case of KO-Knet and MyKnet.org. Presentation at UnlikeUs conference, Amsterdam, 10.03.2012. (PDF)

Main points:

  • case for media / technology diversity that is cultural diversity
  • through activist projects and practices
  • need to support local languages, cultural heritage & practices
  • through (1) control & ownership, (2) cooperation, networking & sharing

Further reading and resources:

Summary of the presentation by Ryanne Turenhout

Books
Landzelius, K. 2006. (ed.) Native on the net: Indigenous and diasporic peoples in the virtual age. New York & London: Routledge.
McCaughey, M., Ayers, M. D. 2003. (eds.) Cyberactivism: Online activism in theory and practice. New York & London: Routledge.

Journals & Papers
Budka, P., Bell, B., & Fiser, A. (2009): MyKnet.org: How Northern Ontario’s First Nation communities made themselves at home on the World Wide Web. The Journal of Community Informatics, 5(2), http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/article/view/568/450
The Journal of Community Informatics Special Issue (2009): CI & Indigenous Communities in Canada – The K-Net (Keewaytinook Okimakanak’s Kuhkenah) Experience, http://ci-journal.net/index.php/ciej/issue/view/27

Links
UnlikeUs
Institute for Network Cultures

Paper: Interactive technology enhanced learning for social science students

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Budka, P., Schallert, C., Mader, E. “Interactive technology enhanced learning for social science students”, Paper for ICL Conference 2011, Piestany, Slovakia, 21-23 September 2011.

Prezi Presentation

Abstract
This paper introduces the case of an interactive technology enhanced learning model, its contexts and infrastructure at a public university in the Bologna era. From a socio-technological perspective, it takes a look at the conditions and challenges under which this flexible learning model for the social sciences has been developed. Furthermore, selected evaluation results, including experiences and expectations of social science students, are discussed. The paper concludes that it is possible, with the appropriate didactical model, to create and facilitate interactive student-centered learning situations, even in “mass lectures”.

Paper: From Cyber to Digital Anthropology to an Anthropology of the Contemporary

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Philipp Budka’s Paper at the DGV (German Anthropological Association) conference in Vienna, 14-17 September 2011, Workshop “Cyberculture” organized by Alexander Knorr

Abstract
This paper is first taking a look back on the “anthropology of cyberculture”, formulated as anthropological research area, concept and issue by Escobar in 1994. Inspired by science and technology studies, he painted a very vivid picture how anthropology and ethnography could contribute to the understanding of new bio and communication technologies as society’s transforming driving forces. Pushed by powerful digital media technologies, such as internet applications and services, anthropology labelled as “digital anthropology” is currently tempted to forget about cyberanthropology’s holistic effort of understanding the sociocultural construction and interpretation of bio and communication technologies. What is the legacy of the anthropology of cyberculture when dealing with new digital practices? Is it actually necessary to construct branches of anthropology that deal with contemporary sociocultural developments? Or should we just open the discipline to an “anthropology of the contemporary”, as Rabinow and Marcus (2008) propose?

References
Escobar, Arturo. 1994. Welcome to Cyberia. Notes on the anthropology of cyberculture. In Current Anthropology, 35/3: 211-231.
Rabinow, Paul, Marcus, George E. (with Faubion, James D., Rees, Tobias) 2008. Designs for an anthropology of the contemporary. Durham: Duke University Press.

Text (PDF)

Links
http://www.tagung2011.dgv-net.de/

http://www.tagung2011.dgvnet.de/workshops.html

http://www.univie.ac.at/ksa/

Report on the 11th Biennial EASA 2010 Conference

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Report on the 11th Biennial EASA 2010 Conference “Crisis and Imagination”,
National University of Ireland Maynooth, 24-27
th August 2010
by Philipp Budka
(University of Vienna)

This report focuses only on those workshops I attended during the conference. They all deal with media (technology) practices in/and social and cultural anthropology. For a complete list of workshops and thematic areas, take a look at the conference website: http://www.easaonline.org/conferences/easa2010/index.htm

National University of Ireland Maynooth, North Campus

25 August 2010: EASA Media Anthropology Network Workshop “The rewards of media”
Convenors: John Postill & Philipp Budka

(http://www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2010/panels.php5?PanelID=648)

John Postill introduces to the workshop’s theme, procedure and schedule. “The workshop explores the rewards (social, economic, symbolic, sensory, etc., cf. Warde 2005) derived from engaging in specific media practices in different sociocultural settings.” (more: http://www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2010/panels.php5?PanelID=648).

1) John Postill & Francisco Orsorio “Mobile rewards: a critical review of the Mobiles for Development (M4D) literature”
In the workshop’s first paper John and Francisco review literature in the field of mobile technologies, particular phones, for development.

26 August 2010: Workshop “Digital Anthropology”
Convenors: Daniel Miller & Heather Horst
(http://www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2010/panels.php5?PanelID=599)

Introduction to the workshop by Daniel Miller. “How can anthropology contribute to an understanding of the impact of new digital technologies? This session explores topics ranging from how digital technologies become part of everyday life to their role in the development of new infrastructures within both commerce and the state.” (more: http://www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2010/panels.php5?PanelID=599).

1) Daniel Miller & Heather Horst “A brief theory of digital anthropology”
Daniel gives an introduction to the theory of digital anthropology by presenting the study program for digital anthropology at the University College London and two ethnographic case studies.

National University of Ireland Maynooth, South Campus

27 August 2010: Workshop “Engaging anthropology in practice: pedagogical exchanges with media practitioners”
Convenors: Caroline Gatt, Rachel Harkness, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Joseph Long

(http://www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2010/panels.php5?PanelID=621)

Introducing to the workshop and its theme are Caroline Gatt, Rachel Harkness, and Joseph Long. How can anthropology engage with media practitioners and in e.g. media training programs?
“Launching “Engaging Anthropology in Practice”, a project based in Scotland, this panel will showcase anthropological engagements of various publics by European practitioners in order to learn from this work and create links for future cooperation. Presentations have been requested that reflect upon the practicalities of engagement. Discussion in the latter part of the session will consider the development of anthropological training in the light of these experiences.” (more: http://www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa2010/panels.php5?PanelID=621).

1) Julia Bayer “Awareness training for journalists and its potential for the promotion of media diversity”
Julia, in her presentation, is introducing an awareness training program for journalists in Germany.

New forms of socialities on the web? – Paper at the Web as Culture Conference

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Budka, P., Mader, E. 2009. New forms of socialities on the web? A critical exploration of anthropological concepts to understand sociocultural online practices. Paper at “Web as Culture Conference”, Giessen, 16-18 July.

Abstract

Internet technologies and the World Wide Web promised a lot of things: from instantaneous global communication and fast information gathering to new forms of politics, economy, organizations, and socialities, including a renewed sense of community. By studying these online and “virtual” communities, internet researchers initially focused on their structure and development (e.g. Jones 1995, Smith & Kollock, 1999). Social network theory then changed decisively the way communities on the web have been conceptualized and analyzed. Scholars like Barry Wellman (et al., 2002) and Manuel Castells (2000), argue that in the internet age societies, communities, and individuals all have a network character. Thus the conceptualization of community as social network, by focusing on the interactions in these communities, has become widespread in internet studies.

Community and social network as concepts of sociality have been critically reviewed by anthropologists particularly in the context and process of ethnographic fieldwork. Vered Amit (2002), e.g., states that community is, because of its emotional significance and popularity in public discourses, a rather poor analytical concept. Internet ethnographers hence have been starting to look for alternative ways of understanding online socialities by moving beyond the community/network paradigm (Postill 2008).

In this paper we are critically discussing the potential of alternative concepts of sociality to analyze how people are interacting on the web. In so doing, we are firstly reviewing the quite popular concept of “communitas” developed by Victor Turner to differentiate between society as social structure and society as communitas constituted by concrete idiosyncratic individuals and their interactions. In the context of the sociocultural web, the liminal experience of people switching between these two stages is particularly interesting. Secondly, we are introducing the concept of “conviviality”, coined by Joanna Overing, to internet studies. Conviviality accentuates the affective side of sociality, such as joy, creativity, and the virtues of sharing and generosity, as opposed to the structure or functioning of society. These analytical concepts and tools, derived from anthropological and ethnographic research, are finally applied to an empirical case study of Bollywood fan communities on the web and their sociocultural practices.

References

Amit, Vered (ed.). 2002. Realizing community: concepts, social relationships and sentiments. London & New York: Routledge.
Castells, Manuel. 2000. The rise of the network society. Second Edition. Malden: Blackwell Publishers.
Jones, Steven G. (ed.). 1995. CyberSociety: Computer-Mediated Communication and Community. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Kollock, Peter, Smith, Marc A. (eds.). 1999. Communities in Cyberspace. London & New York: Routledge.
Postill, John. 2008. Localising the internet: beyond communities and networks. In: New Media and Society 10(3), 413-431.
Wellman, Barry, Boase, Jeffrey and Wenhong Chen. 2002. The networked nature of community: online and offline. In: IT&Society 1/1, 151-165.

Article/Report: Indigenous Peoples knowledge society: Transformations and challenges

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Budka, P., Fiser, A. 2010. Indigenous Peoples knowledge society: Transformation and challenges. Report and introduction to the section Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society. TRANS – Internet Journal for Cultural Studies, 2010(17). Online: http://inst.at/trans/17Nr/8-2/8-2_sektionsbericht.htm

This introductory text and a collection of papers, which were presented at the “Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society” workshop at the “KCTOS: Wissen, Kreativität und Transformationen von Gesellschaften” conference in December 2007 in Vienna will be accessible online in the 17th issue of TRANS: Internet Journal for Cultural Studies.

Of the more than 300 million Indigenous People recognized by the United Nations, a growing minority is actively shaping indigenous visions of a knowledge-based society (e.g. UNHCHR 2001, 1997). These visions are not simply indigenous responses to global mainstream debates over post-industrial development or techno-scientific culture, etc. More importantly, they articulate the actual deployment of new media and information communications technologies (ICTs) by indigenous communities to forward their own policies and practices. They frame how indigenous communities are mobilizing over the internet and on the web to communicate their lived experiences and extend their local networks to global audiences, including and most importantly, a global indigenous audience.

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Report: CRASSH Workshop “Subversion, Conversion, Development”

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Budka, P. 2008. Report on CRASSH Workshop “Subversion, Conversion, Development: Public Interests in Technologies”, Cambridge, 24-26 April.

From the workshop’s abstract:
As part of the “New forms of knowledge for the 21st Century” research agenda at Cambridge University, the workshop will explore why designers and developers of new technologies should be interested in producing objects that users can modify, redeploy or redevelop. This exploration demands an examination of presuppositions that underpin the knowledge practices associated with the various productions of information communication technologies (ICT). A central question is that of diversity: diversity of use, of purpose, and of value(s). Does diversity matter, in the production and use of ICT, and if so, why?

Text (PDF)

Links:
http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/71/
http://vectors.usc.edu/thoughtmesh/publish/12.php

Section/Workshop: Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society

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The section “Indigenous Peoples Knowledge Society” of the KCTOS conference will take place at the 7th of December at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna.

More detailed information can be found in the workshop’s program:
fiser_budka_program.pdf

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