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Book: Theorising Media and Conflict

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Budka, P., & Bräuchler, B. (Eds.). (2020). Theorising media and conflict. Anthropology of Media. New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Theorising Media and Conflict brings together anthropologists as well as media and communication scholars to collectively address the elusive and complex relationship between media and conflict. Through epistemological and methodological reflections and the analyses of various case studies from around the globe, this volume provides evidence for the co-constitutiveness of media and conflict and contributes to their consolidation as a distinct area of scholarship. Practitioners, policymakers, students and scholars who wish to understand the lived realities and dynamics of contemporary conflicts will find this book invaluable.

This is the second “Theorising media and …” book in Berghahn’s Anthropology of Media series. The aim of the series is to place media anthropology at the forefront of theoretical advances in both anthropology and media and communication studies.

Table of Contents

Philipp Budka

Introduction. Anthropological Perspectives on Theorising Media and Conflict
Birgit Bräuchler and Philipp Budka
Chapter 1. Transforming Media and Conflict Research
Nicole Stremlau

Chapter 2. Just a ‘Stupid Reflex’? Digital Witnessing of the Charlie Hebdo Attacks and the Mediation of Conflict
Johanna Sumiala, Minttu Tikka and Katja Valaskivi
Chapter 3. The Ambivalent Aesthetics and Perception of Mobile Phone Videos: A (De-)Escalating Factor for the Syrian Conflict
Mareike Meis

Chapter 4. Banal Phenomenologies of Conflict: Professional Media Cultures and Audiences of Distant Suffering
Tim Markham
Chapter 5. Learning to Listen: Theorising the Sounds of Contemporary Media and Conflict
Matthew Sumera

Chapter 6. Trolling and the Orders and Disorders of Communication in ‘(Dis)Information Society’
Jonathan Paul Marshall
Chapter 7. ‘Your Rockets Are Late. Do We Get a Free Pizza?’: Israeli-Palestinian Twitter Dialogues and Boundary Maintenance in the 2014 Gaza War
Oren Livio

Chapter 8. What Violent Conflict Tells Us about Media and Place-Making (and Vice Versa): Ethnographic Observations from a Revolutionary Uprising
Nina Grønlykke Mollerup
Chapter 9. An Ayuujk ‘Media War’ over Water and Land: Mediatised Senses of Belonging between Mexico and the United States
Ingrid Kummels

Chapter 10. Transnationalising the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Media Rituals and Diaspora Activism between California and the South Caucasus
Rik Adriaans
Chapter 11. Stones Thrown Online: The Politics of Insults, Distance and Impunity in Congolese Polémique
Katrien Pype

Chapter 12. Mending the Wounds of War: A Framework for the Analysis of the Representation of Conflict-Related Trauma and Reconciliation in Cinema
Lennart Soberon, Kevin Smets and Daniel Biltereyst
Chapter 13. Going off the Record? On the Relationship between Media and the Formation of National Identity in Post-Genocide Rwanda
Silke Oldenburg
Chapter 14. From War to Peace in Indonesia: Transforming Media and Society
Birgit Bräuchler

John Postill

CfP: Engaged media anthropology in the digital age

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The EASA Media Anthropology Network is organizing an official network panel at the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) 2020 conference in Lisbon (21-24 July). Find the call for papers below and online:

For more general information about the call and the conference, navigate to:

The call closes on 20 January 2020.

Engaged media anthropology in the digital age

Philipp Budka (University of Vienna) and Sahana Udupa (LMU Munich)

The relative ease of access and potential disruptive features of digital media have opened up new opportunities for media anthropologists to extend their field relations into durable public engagement. These possibilities have encouraged anthropologists to collaboratively design various public engagement initiatives to harness digital media technologies and infrastructures for social justice goals including health, education, environmental protection, gender parity and political inclusion. Such direct interventions have gone hand in hand with critical perspectives on how “the digital” has played a key role in enabling political cultures of indignity and injustice – from online extreme speech to digitally enabled surveillance and algorithmic bias. This panel will foreground these two distinct, yet interrelated, aspects of engaged media anthropology: community projects that involve direct participation of anthropologists in designing digital platforms and applications, and in supporting local forms of media/digital activism; and studies that envision an inclusive future through public intervention strategies of critique and discursive resistance. A key question that drives this panel is whether the latest examples of engaged media anthropology that are enabled by digital technologies and infrastructures have signaled a break from the imperial logic of upliftment and betterment as a means to consolidate colonial power or whether enduring injustices are questioned through new means of collaboration and dialogue. What are the promises and limitations of engaged media anthropology in the digital age?

Lecture/Seminar: Ethnography and Digital Media 2019

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In this lecture/seminar at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, we discuss how ethnography contributes to the exploration, description and understanding of digitally mediated processes and practices (in German).

In dieser Lehrveranstaltung erhalten Studierende einen Einblick in die Ethnographie digitaler Medien. Dabei werden sowohl theoretische Zugänge und Konzepte als auch praxisnahen Anwendungs- und Erfahrungswerte vermittelt.

Digitale Medien – wie Internet, Social Media und Smartphones – ermöglichen neue Formen medialer Kommunikation und Repräsentation, die in Zusammenhang mit unterschiedlichen soziokulturellen, politischen und ökonomischen Faktoren und Dimensionen stehen. Diese Medientechnologien überbrücken nicht nur Zeit und Raum, sie gestalten diese neu. Sie ermöglichen die Vernetzung und Mobilisierung von Menschen und die Konstruktion vielfältiger Formen von individueller und kollektiver Identität. Welche theoretischen und methodologischen Zugänge sind hilfreich, um neue digitale Medientechnologien und damit zusammenhängende Praktiken und Sozialitäten zu beschreiben und zu analysieren? Können wir auf das “klassische” methodische Repertoire der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie zurückgreifen oder benötigt es neue digitale Methoden und Techniken? Welche Bedeutung haben etwa Datensicherung und die Archivierung von digitalen Artefakten? Und welche ethischen Aspekte in der Digitalen Ethnographie gilt es zu beachten?
Studierende lernen anhand von konkreten Fallbeispielen, ausgewählte theoretische und methodologische Zugänge kennen. Sie gewinnen so einen Überblick über die Diversität digitaler Phänomene, Prozesse und Praktiken sowie deren ethnographische Beschreibung und Untersuchung.

Literatur (Auswahl)

Boellstorff, T., Nardi, B., Pearce, C., & Taylor, T. L. (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Budka, P. (2019). Von der Cyber Anthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie. Über die Rolle der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie im Verstehen soziotechnischer Lebenswelten. In M. Luger, F. Graf & P. Budka (Eds.), Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance (pp. 163-188). Göttingen: V&R Unipress/Vienna University Press.

Hakken, D. (1999). Cyborgs@Cyberspace: An ethnographer looks to the future. London: Routledge.

Hjorth, L, Horst, H., Galloway, A., & Bell, G. (2016). The Routledge Companion to digital ethnography. New York: Routledge.

Miller, D., & Slater, D. (2002). Ethnography and the extreme Internet. In T. H. Eriksen (Ed.), Globalisation: Studies in anthropology (pp. 39-57). London: Pluto Press.

Pink, S., Horst, H., Postill, J., Hjorth, L., Lewis, T., & Tacchi, J. (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.

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Lecture: Introduction to Social and Cultural Anthropology 2019

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In this year’s introductory lecture at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna, we will investigate and discuss sociocultural anthropology’s key topics, selected theoretical perspectives and a diversity of case studies (in German). This lecture is closely connected to the lecture “Propädeutikum Social and Cultural Anthropology” and focuses in particular on teaching and research areas that are representative for sociocultural anthropology in Vienna.

In der Vorlesung wird eine Auswahl von Themenfeldern behandelt, die im Zuge des Studiums in diversen Modulen vertieft werden. Dazu zählen: Kolonialismus/Postkolonialismus; Globalisierung und Migration; Tourismus; ökonomische Prozesse und Wirtschaftsweisen; Materielle Kultur und Konsum; Natur und Umwelt; soziale Organisationsformen und Kinship; Ritual und Mythen; Religion und Weltbild; Medien und Kommunikationstechnologien; Visuelle Kultur und Film; Gender.

Die Darstellung der einzelnen Themenfelder umfasst jeweils eine Einführung in wichtige Fragestellungen, zentrale theoretische Konzepte, und ausgewählte Fallstudien. Besondere Aufmerksamkeit gilt dabei auch den Verflechtungen von verschiedenen Themenfeldern sowie spezifischen regionalen Kontexten (insbesondere Lateinamerika, Nordamerika, Südasien und Nordafrika).

Die Vorlesung gibt den Studierenden einen Einblick in die thematische Bandbreite des Faches, sie vermittelt Basiswissen zu Orientierung von StudienanfängerInnen sowie Grundkompetenzen in Hinblick auf eine Reihe von aktuellen Forschungsfeldern der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie.

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Presentation: The cultural history & social life of an indigenous web-based environment

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Budka, P. (2019). The cultural history and social life of an indigenous web-based environment. Paper at “The Web That Was: Archives, Traces, Reflections” Conference (RESAW19), Amsterdam, Netherlands: University of Amsterdam, 21 June. Presentation (PDF)

Ethnographic Vignette

In the summer of 2006, during my first field trip to Northwestern Ontario, I visited the Frenchman’s Head community of Lac Seul First Nation which is one of the region’s few non-remote indigenous communities that can be reached by car and by boat. In the Band Office, the community’s largest administrative building, I was introduced to 16 year old Candice, a well known user. She told me that she did set up her first page a couple of years ago to stay in touch with friends and family and to let people know about her life. To communicate with friends and family members, she added a c-box to her homepage where people could leave messages.

As I found out later, almost everyone in the Band Office had a homepage. Even though some didn’t know how to work with their websites. They needed the help of young, web-savvy colleagues, friends and family members. Candice introduced me to an older lady who told me that she had to register for a new page only two weeks ago because her original page was registered under her now divorced husband’s name. And since she didn’t want to be constantly reminded of this, she needed a new homepage. KO-KNET, the First Nations internet organization that has been managing the homepage service, only approves registrations with real, locally known, First Nation names that are then displayed in the URL of the page.

Candice helped her setting up the page, finding and applying the right layout and updating the content. As she told me later, she was regularly reminding other employees at the office to keep their respective homepages up to date. She also told me that she has started to use other, commercial website providers, such as Piczo (2002-2012). They were easier to use than and provided more web space and technical features and possibilities.

Seminar: Media Activism

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For the MA Program “Visual and Media Anthropology” at the Free University Berlin, I am organizing a newly developed seminar on media activism.

Course Description

Activism with/in/through media can be broadly understood as forms of technology mediated activism that intend to spark, create and/or support social and political change. So change (and therefore continuity) is at the heart of media activism, as, for instance, Kidd and Rodriguez (2009: 1) note: “Grassroots media have grown from a set of small and isolated experiments to a complex of networks of participatory communications that are integral to local, national, and transnational projects of social change”. Since media activism is related to a diversity of phenomena – such as power relationships, conflict or globalization – as well as to questions about the conception of time and space, organizational structures, collective identities and different forms of sociality, it has become a broad, interdisciplinary research field. This course gives an overview of media activism from a predominantly anthropological and ethnographic perspective.

When engaging with media activism, a variety of contexts, theoretical conceptualizations and methodological approaches have to be considered. In this course, students learn about these aspects by reviewing relevant literature and by discussing different forms and examples of media activism and related questions, issues and problems:

  • How can we contextualize media activism and related practices in anthropology?
  • What historical developments can we identify? And what does this tell us about contemporary activist processes and practices?
  • What is the role of (sociocultural and technological) change, politics, power, globalization and (de)colonization in an anthropological engagement with media activism?
  • How can we ethnographically describe and analyze media activist processes and practices? What are the possibilities and challenges?
  • How can we understand media activism in digital times and in the age of social media? What has changed?
  • What does it mean to interpret and conceptualize media activism as (a form or a part of) cultural activism?


Kidd, D., & Rodriguez, C. (2009). Introduction. In C. Rodriguez, D. Kidd, & L. Stein (Eds.), Making our media: Global initiatives toward a democratic public sphere, Volume 1: Creating new communication spaces (pp. 1-22). New York: Hampton Press.

Selected Literature

Barassi, V. (2015). Activism on the web: Everyday struggles against digital capitalism. New York: Routledge.

Budka, P. (2019). Indigenous media technologies in “the digital age”: Cultural articulation, digital practices, and sociopolitical concepts. In S. S. Yu & M. D. Matsaganis (Eds.), Ethnic media in the digital age (pp. 162-172). New York: Routledge.

Couldry, N., & Curran, J. (2003). The paradox of media power. In N. Couldry & J. Curran (Eds.), Contesting media power: Alternative media in a networked world (pp. 3-15). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Edelman, M. (2001). Social movements: Changing paradigms and forms of politics. Annual Review of Anthropology 30(1), 285-317.

Gerbaudo, P. (2012). Tweets and the streets: Social media and contemporary activism. London: Pluto Press.

Ginsburg, F., Abu-Lughod, L., & Larkin, B. (2002). Introduction. In F. Ginsburg, L. Abu-Lughod, & B. Larkin (Eds.), Media worlds: Anthropology on new terrain (pp. 1-36). Berkeley: University of California Press.

Juris, J. S., & Khasnabish, A. (2013). Introduction: Ethnography and activism within networked spaces of transnational encounter. In J. S. Juris & A. Khasnabish (Eds.), Insurgent encounters: Transnational activism, ethnography and the political (pp. 1-36). Durham: Duke University Press.

Mazzarella, W. (2004). Culture, globalization, mediation. Annual Review of Anthropology, 33, 345-367.

Melucci, A. (1996). Challenging codes: Collective action in the information age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Postill, J. (2012). Digital politics and political engagement. In H. A. Horst & D. Miller (Eds.), Digital anthropology (pp. 165-184). London: Berg.

Postill, J. (2018). The rise of nerd politics: Digital activism and political change. London: Pluto Press.

Wolfson, T., Treré, E., Gerbaudo, P., & Funke, P. (2017). From global justice to Occupy and Podemos: Mapping three stages of contemporary activism. Special Issue of tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique 15(2), 390-542.

Book: Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance

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Luger, M., Graf, F., & Budka, P. (Eds.). (2019). Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance. (Ritualization – Mediatization – Performance). Göttingen: V&R Unipress/Vienna University Press.

Ritualisierung, Mediatisierung und Performance dienen als konzeptionelle Hilfsmittel, um Veränderungen und Kontinuitäten im Alltagsleben sozialer Akteurinnen und Akteure sowie in spezifischen Kontexten zu situieren. Dieser Band zeigt anhand konkreter ethnographischer Beispiele, dass rituelle, mediale und performative Prozesse und Praktiken idealerweise gemeinsam, in ihrer Relationalität zueinander betrachtet werden. Neben einem Schwerpunkt auf Transformation enthält der Band Beiträge zu ausgewählten Aspekten der Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie und zu einer Ethnographie und Kulturgeschichte der Karibik, die sozialen Status, religiöse Praxis und Erinnerung behandeln sowie Texte, die Verbindungen zwischen politischen, medialen und kulturellen Sphären diskutieren.

Ritualization, mediatization and performance are conceptual tools to situate sociocultural change and continuity in everyday life and in specific contexts. By building on ethnographic case studies, this volume demonstrates that ritual, media and performative processes and practices are best explored in relation to each other. In addition to a general focus on transformation, this book includes contributions on selected aspects of the theory, methodology and history of social and cultural anthropology. Chapters about the history and ethnography of the Caribbean that discuss social status, religious practices and cultural remembrance, as well as texts that explore the connections between political, media and cultural spheres complement the volume.

Martin Luger / Philipp Budka / Franz Graf
Kultur- und sozialanthropologische Perspektiven auf Ritualisierung, Mediatisierung und Performance. Eine Einleitung
Marion Linska
Selbstfürsorge im Feld. Überlegungen aus existenzanalytischer Perspektive
Yvonne Schaffler / Bernd Brabec de Mori
»Cuando el misterio insiste« – »Wenn sich der Geist Gehör verschafft«. Die Kunst der Überzeugung im dominikanischen Vodou
Stephanie Schmiderer
Präsenz der Gottheiten. Zum Verständnis transformativer Performance im haitianischen Vodou und seiner Diaspora
Elke Mader
Rund um die Palme. Rituelle Prozesse, indigene Politik und Medien in Ecuador
Birgit Bräuchler
Praxeologische Überlegungen zur Mediatisierungsdebatte. Eine ethnologische Perspektive
Philipp Budka
Von der Cyberanthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie. Über die Rolle der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie im Verstehen soziotechnischer Lebenswelten
Manfred Kremser
»Shango is a Powerful Fellow!«. Repräsentation spiritueller Macht in afrokaribischen Kulturen
Adelheid Pichler
Artefakte und Erinnerung. Ein Beitrag zur Interpretation materieller Kultur in den afrokubanischen Religionen
Werner Zips
»She’s Royal« – »Queenmothers« in Ghana. Ein afrikanisches Rollenmodell für Jamaika
Manfred Kremser / Franz Graf / Gertraud Seiser
»Ein Leben scannen«. Fragmentarische Retrospektive von und auf Manfred Kremser

Book Chapter: Indigenous Media Technologies in “The Digital Age”

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Budka, P. (2019). Indigenous media technologies in “the digital age”: Cultural articulation, digital practices, and sociopolitical concepts. In S. S. Yu & M. D. Matsaganis (Eds.), Ethnic media in the digital age (pp. 162-172). New York: Routledge.

Indigenous engagements with digital media technologies have been analyzed from different angles and by discussing a variety of issues, from technology access and literacy, to language, culture, and politics (e.g., Dyson, Grant, & Hendriks, 2016; Dyson, Hendriks, & Grant, 2007; Landzelius, 2006a). By drawing on a literature review and on an ethnographic case study, I am providing an anthropological perspective on the relationship between indigenous people and digital media technologies that focuses on digital practices related to the mediation of culture and the formation of (cultural) identity. Within this mediation process, cultural elements of the dominant, non-indigenous societies are recombined with elements from indigenous cultures. “Indigenized” media technologies promote thus an open and dynamic understanding of culture in “the digital age.” But when it comes to characterizing and understanding non-Western media phenomena and processes, terms such as “the digital age” or “the network society” have their conceptual weaknesses. These concepts are inherently ethnocentric, that is, Euro-American centered, implying an evolutionary world view that tends to ignore culturally different ascriptions of meaning to digital realities. I am following here Ginsburg (2008), who states that these concepts are rather reinforcing the imaginary of “the other,” existing in “a time not contemporary with our own” (p. 291). Thus, this chapter presents an anthropologically informed approach to the relationship between media technologies, culture, and politics that advocates the significance of non-Western perspectives and realities in conceptualizing and understanding the diversity of digital life.

Seminar: Digital & Visual Technologies as Material Culture

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In the summer term 2019, I am giving a seminar on digital and visual technologies as material culture at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology (MA & CREOLE study programme) of the University of Vienna. Find more information online.

This course gives an overview about material culture as a conceptual and practical approach to understand digital and visual technologies. In doing so, it focuses on digital technologies, their visual aspects and how they are integrated and utilized in everyday life.

Mobile networked digital media technologies, such as smart phones, as well as social media platforms and services, such as Facebook or Instagram, have become important (visual) communication and (re)presentation tools. For social and cultural anthropology it is of particular interest how these digital devices and technologies are integrated and embedded into everyday life, by considering changing sociocultural, political and economic contexts. This course focuses in particular on the material aspects of digital and visual technologies and how they are utilized on a day-to-day basis. Questions about the relevance of a material culture approach for (the understanding of) technology appropriation on a theoretical and practical level as well as questions about (culturally) different usage practices are discussed. How does the understanding and conceptualisation of digital and visual technology as material culture contribute to the exploration and analyses of contemporary and emerging sociocultural practices and processes in increasingly digital societies?

By working on different case studies, students get a comparative overview about material culture in the context of digital and visual technologies. Students conduct small empirical research projects within teams.

Lecture: Ritual & Religion in Social and Cultural Anthropology

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Together with Martin Luger, I am organizing a lecture on ritual and religion in social and cultural anthropology at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna (in German). Find more information online.

Die Lehrveranstaltung gibt einen Überblick über zentrale Konzepte der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie zu rituellen und religiösen Praktiken, Prozessen und Phänomenbereichen. Ausgehend von klassischen Werken unterschiedlicher Denktraditionen werden den Studierenden Einblicke in die Entstehung rezenter Sichtweisen und Debatten vermittelt. Mit Hilfe ethnographischer Fallbeispiele erlangen sie Kompetenzen im Erfassen unterschiedlicher Wechselwirkungen der zentralen Themenbereiche.

Die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie befasst sich mit unterschiedlichen Glaubensvorstellungen, spirituellen Praktiken und Ritualen sowie deren soziokultureller und alltäglicher Einbettung. Religion und Ritual sind eng mit anderen Bereichen des menschlichen Lebens verflochten, etwa mit sozialen Beziehungen, Wertvorstellungen, Moral, Ethik, Vorstellungen von Gesundheit und Krankheit, politischen Organisationsformen, Ökonomie und Ökologie.
Religionen zeichnen sich beispielsweise durch eine ausgeprägte performative Ritual-Praxis aus. Das rituelle Geschehen als Feld des sozialen Dramas, der Initiation und Transformation sowie dessen Mittlerfunktionen zwischen Ordnung und Chaos, Communitas und Rebellion werden thematisiert. Ebenso wird anhand des Begriffs der Performativität der Frage nachgegangen, ob der Körper durch das Ritual geht, oder das Ritual durch den Körper.
Rituale stehen zudem in Zusammenhang mit bestimmten Wertvorstellungen und Normen sowie mit spezifischen Menschenbildern. Dabei haben Vorstellungen und Praktiken Auswirkungen auf die Subjektivität und Personalität von Praktizierenden. Dies hat sowohl ethnographische Erkundungen über jene Dinge gefördert, die im Leben von Menschen am wichtigsten scheinen, als auch Sensibilitäten dafür geschaffen, wie sich diese mit breiteren Prozessen und Kontexten überschneiden. Rezente Unsicherheiten betreffen beispielsweise die ökologische Zerstörung und ihre Ursachen, und destabilisieren Konzepte, Um- und Lebenswelten. Gleichzeitig entstehen neue religiöse Bewegungen mit dem Versprechen von ökologischem sowie sozialem Gleichgewicht (Stichwort: green religions, spiritual ecology).

Die Vorlesung spannt einen Bogen von evolutionistischen Ansätzen, über struktural-funktionale, bis hin zu post-strukturalen Ansätzen und den Ontologie-Debatten des 21.Jh. Die Inhalte werden anhand zentraler Texte und ethnographischer Fallbeispiele erläutert und ermöglichen die Diskussion eines breiten Spektrums kultur- und sozialanthropologischer Forschungszugänge. Die Lernplattform der Universität Wien wird genutzt, um Lernmaterialien zur Verfügung zu stellen sowie den inhaltlichen Austausch und die Kommunikation zwischen den Studierenden zu fördern. Zusätzlich sieht die Lehrveranstaltung eine aktive Beteiligung der Studierenden mittels Diskussionsrunden vor.

Digitale Anthropologie

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Dieser Text wurde 2017 für den Blog der Universität Wien geschrieben; für eine überarbeitete und erweiterte Version des Textes siehe
Budka, P. 2019. Von der Cyber Anthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie. Über die Rolle der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie im Verstehen soziotechnischer Lebenswelten. In: Luger, M., Graf, F. & Budka, P. (Hg.), Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance. Göttingen: V&R Unipress/Vienna University Press, 163-188.

Die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie ist längst nicht mehr nur die Wissenschaft von „einfachen“, außereuropäischen Gesellschaften und Kulturen. Seit Jahrzehnten forscht die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie kulturvergleichend zu komplexen Prozessen, Entwicklungen und Veränderungen in allen menschlichen Gesellschaften und Kulturen. Da war es nur eine Frage der Zeit bis die ersten Kultur- und SozialanthropologInnen begannen sich auch mit digitalen Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien (IKT), wie dem Internet, Smartphones oder Sozialen Medien, auseinander zu setzen. Die Wiener Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie war dabei – zumindest im deutschen Sprachraum – unter den ersten, die sich mit den Verbindungen und Zusammenhängen zwischen digitalen Medientechnologien und soziokulturellen Phänomenbereichen aus spezifisch anthropologischer/ethnologischer Perspektive befassten.

In diesem Blogbeitrag gehe ich der Frage nach, welche Rolle die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie in der Untersuchung und in weiterer Folge im Verstehen digitaler Medientechnologien spielt. Andere Aspekte der Digitalisierung dieser Disziplin – wie z.B. computerunterstützte Forschungsprojekte und -methoden, neue Publikationsmöglichkeiten durch Open Access, neue Wege der Präsentation und Kommunikation von Forschung mittels Blogs oder Sozialer Medien sowie neue Methoden und Strategien für Lernen und Lehre – kann ich hier nicht näher diskutieren.

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Paper: The anthropology of digital visuality

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Budka, P. (2018). The anthropology of digital visuality: Notes on comparison, context and relationality. Paper at Vienna Anthropology Days 2018 (VANDA2018), Vienna, Austria: University of Vienna, 20 September.

Sociocultural anthropology provides theoretical approaches and concepts to comparatively study local life-worlds, to contextualize cultural meaning, and to (re)consider human/non-human and socio-technical relations that have been emerging with digital media technologies (e.g. Horst & Miller 2012, Moore 2012, Whitehead & Wesch 2012). Ethnography and ethnographic fieldwork, as methodological tools, allow for investigating digital practices and processes by considering the above aspects (Pink et al. 2016). For anthropology it is of particular interest how people engage on a day-to-day basis with digital media and technologies, internet-based devices and services, mobile computing as well as software applications and digital platforms.

In this paper, I discuss, from an anthropological perspective and through brief ethnographic examples, digital visuality as a contemporary phenomenon that constitutes emerging patterns of visual communication and culture. In addition, I am briefly discussing digital visuality as a concept to approach and investigate the visual in digital times.

Digital media technologies and mobile networked devices, such as smart phones, have become ubiquitous means of visual production, communication and representation (e.g. Gómez Cruz et al. 2017). Moreover, digital platforms and social media services, such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, are utilized to share and consume visual artefacts. Constituting and changing thus communicative practices and visual culture alike. Consequently, these transformation processes provide new challenges and possibilities for the anthropological and ethnographic study of the visual (e.g. Pink 2011).
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E-Seminar: The digital turn: New directions in media anthropology

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Udupa, S., Costa, E., & Budka, P. (2018) The digital turn: New directions in media anthropology.
Discussion Paper for the Follow-Up E-Seminar on the EASA Media Anthropology Network Panel “The Digital Turn” at the 15th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 14-17 August 2018.

63rd EASA Media Anthropology Network E-Seminar: 16-30 October 2018, via the network’s Mailing List.

With the advent of digital media technologies, internet-based devices and services, mobile computing as well as software applications and digital platforms new opportunities and challenges have come to the forefront in the anthropological study of media. For media anthropology and related fields, such as digital and visual anthropology, it is of particular interest how people engage with digital media and technologies; how digital devices and tools are integrated and embedded in everyday life; and how they are entangled with different social practices and cultural processes. The digital turn in media anthropology signals the growing importance of digital media technologies in contemporary sociocultural, political and economic processes. This panel suggested that the digital turn could be seen a paradigm shift in the anthropological study of media, and foregrounded three important streams of exploration that might indicate new directions in the anthropology of media.

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Panel: “Digital Visuality” @ VANDA 2018

Panel: “Digital Visuality” @ VANDA 2018 published on No Comments on Panel: “Digital Visuality” @ VANDA 2018

PANEL “DIGITAL VISUALITY” @ Vienna Anthropology Days (VANDA) 2018 (September 19-22, 2018)

Elke Mader & Philipp Budka

Thursday, 20 September
Room 4 (New Institute Building (NIG) of the University of Vienna, Universitätsstraße 7)

Paper Presentations:

Philipp Budka: The Anthropology of Digital Visuality: Notes on Comparison, Context and Relationality

Harjant Gill: Introduction to Multimodal Anthropologies

Petr Nuska: “Changing the Equipment or Changing the Perspective?” – Exploring Film and Video Approach in Visual Ethnography

Katja Müller: Contemporary Photography in India – Post-media Aesthetics, Traditional Art and Economic Professionalism

Uschi Klein: What Does a Photograph Really Tell Us? The Photography of Young Male Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Fatma Sagir: “We Can See Your Hair, Dina!” – Muslim Female Embodiments of Digital Visibilities

Nadia Molek: Argentinian Slovenians Online: Facebook Groups of Slovenian Descendants in Argentina as Mediators of Identity Performances and Rituals
(via Skype)

Daria Radchenko: Digital Anthropology and/or Digital Traces: Seeing the City Through the Eyes of Locals

Elke Mader: Mediating the Krampus: Digital Visuality, Ritual and Cultural Performance

VANDA 2018 Full Program

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(1), 303-304.

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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