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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:

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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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

Paper: Reflections on media anthropology’s legacies and concerns

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Budka, P. 2016. Reflections on media anthropology’s legacies and concerns (in digital times). Paper at “14th EASA Biennial Conference”, Milan: University of Milano-Bicocca, 20-23 July 2016. Full Paper (PDF)

Why anthropology matters – an EASA statement as starting point

I recently came across a statement compiled by the Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) entitled “Why anthropology matters” (Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists 2015). In this text, several distinct features or key terms of anthropology as academic discipline are highlighted.
(1) Cultural relativism as “methodological tool for studying local life-worlds on their own terms”;
(2) Ethnography as important tool in anthropological research and as main form of data collection which enables anthropologists to “discover aspects of local worlds that are inaccessible to researchers who use other methods”;
(3) Comparison as method to look for sociocultural similarities and differences to develop “general insights into the nature of society and human existence”;
(4) And finally, (social) context, relationships and connections as anthropology’s main concerns.

With these “tools”, the statement’s authors argue, anthropologists are well equipped to generate knowledge that “can help to make sense of the contemporary world” (Executive Committee of the European Association of Social Anthropologists 2015).

Even though one doesn’t have to agree on all of that in detail, the text very briefly discusses features or markers of the discipline of anthropology and consequently its subfields, such as media anthropology. I don’t want to discuss “why media anthropology matters” – I think this question has been, for instance, answered in the course of this panel – but rather build on selected aspects of the statement which I find particularly relevant for looking into media anthropology’s relevance, legacies and concerns (also in times of increasing digitalisation). I can, of course, only scratch on the surface here, leaving much for further debates and discussions.

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Seminar: Indigenous Media 2016

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Again, I have the pleasure to teach the Seminar “Indigenous Media” for the MA Program in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Free University Berlin. Find below a brief description of the course.

In the seminar “Indigenous Media” students get an introduction to indigenous media technologies. In ten seminar units selected questions, issues, and problems are discussed: How do indigenous people produce, distribute, and utilize audiovisual media? How has ethnographic and anthropological film making changed? What role do politics, power, globalization, and (post-)colonialism play in the production and use of indigenous media? How do indigenous people utilize media to construct and negotiate their individual and collective identities? How are indigenous cultures and languages represented through media? And how do indigenous people appropriate and (co-)develop digital technologies in times of increasing globalization?

We start with the contextualization of indigenous media within the framework of an anthropology of media. In the second unit students are introduced to selected debates about the meaning and relevance of (mass) media for indigenous people and their culture. We then discuss ethnographic film making and visual anthropology in the context of indigenous people’s changing role from “objects” for ethnographic films to partners in media projects. The fourth unit deals with the phenomena of (post-)colonialism and decolonization and their implications for indigenous media. This discussion leads us to the self-controlled production of indigenous media and its relevance for issues such as (self-)representation, appropriation, control, and empowerment. Globalization, modernity, and related questions of collective indigenous identity construction – “indigeneity” – are the topics of the next unit. The following three sessions are closely connected and discuss aspects of identity, community, networking, ownership, activism, empowerment, aesthetics, poetics, and popular culture in relation to indigenous media. In the final unit students learn about the importance of digital technologies and infrastructures for indigenous people, their activist projects, and networking initiatives.

Through several case studies students are introduced to the similarities and differences of indigenous media projects throughout the world. These case studies take us to different regions, countries, and continents: from Nunavut, Canada, and the US to the Caribbean, Guatemala, Mexico, and Brazil, to Nigeria, Myanmar, Australia and Finland. The seminar’s assignments include the reading of selected articles, the watching of films and videos, and the discussion of these in small essays. The online conference tool Adobe Connect is used to present and discuss aspects of texts, films, and essays.

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.

Seminar: Media & visual technologies as material culture – students’ projects

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The following joint student projects are conducted in the seminar “Media and visual technologies as material culture” at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna:

  • Team A: Non-Use of Smartphones
    -> Which impact does the non-use of smartphones have for the private and working life? Why do people decide against using smartphones?
  • Team B: Meaning of Cellphones for Refugees
    -> What is the meaning of cellphones for refugees in Austria?
  • Team C: Crowd-sourcing & Labor
    -> How are subjective meanings of “team work” shaped by the inter-dependencies between freelancers and the website Capacitor?
  • Team D: Sharing of Visual Media, Art & Cultural Identity
    -> In what aspects have the Japanese art forms of dance and painting changed through the sharing of visual media/material?
  • Team E: Access to Internet & Power Relations within the Family Home
    -> What are the effects of internet usage on children and young adults in respect to power relations in the family home?
  • Team F: Conversion/Discussion about Digital Content
    -> What is the difference between usage of commentary sections of Serbian and German online newspapers?
  • Team G: Self-Identification through Visual Communication & Social Media
    -> How do people identify/define themselves through visual communication via social media (websites (blogs), video blogs and Instagram)?
  • Team H: Ayahuasceros – Making of Ritual Community on Facebook
    -> What is the relevance of Facebook in the community building process of Austrian Ayahuasca ceremonies?
  • Team I: Bicycle Movement & Digital Media in Vienna
    -> How are digital media technologies utilized in relation to the social network BikeKitchen?

Review: Europäisch-ethnologisches Forschen. Neue Methoden und Konzepte.

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Budka, P. 2014. Review of Hess, S., Moser, J. & M. Schwertl (eds.). Europäisch-ethnologisches Forschen. Neue Methoden und Konzepte. Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 2013; 332 pp. Anthropos, 109.2014/2: 694-696.

Mit dem Sammelband „Europäisch-ethnologisches Forschen. Neue Methoden und Konzepte.“ ist es den HerausgeberInnen und AutorInnen gelungen eine wichtige, und wie ich finde längst überfällige, Sammlung rezenter Methoden und theoretischer Konzepte nicht nur für die Europäische Ethnologie/Volkskunde zusammenzustellen. Auch wenn der Titel ein Naheverhältnis des Bandes und seiner Inhalte zur Europäischen Ethnologie nahelegt, ist dieses Werk durchaus auch VertreterInnen anderer kultur- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Disziplinen – von Kultur- und/oder Sozialanthropologie bis Soziologie – empfohlen. Insgesamt 17 AutorInnen geben in 12 Beiträgen einen einführenden Überblick zu methodischen und methodologischen Überlegungen sowie Konzepten, die in den letzten Jahren im einschlägigen wissenschaftlichen Fachdiskurs massiv an Bedeutung gewonnen haben: von Ethnographie und Feldtheorien über Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie bis hin zur Analyse visueller und materieller Kultur. Im Folgenden will ich mich einer subjektiven Auswahl an Buchbeiträgen widmen, um so zu versuchen die Bandbreite dieses Werkes und seiner Inhalte darzulegen.

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Digital learning material for social & cultural anthropology

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Within a project different digital learning materials for the social sciences, particularly at the University of Vienna, were developed. This is a hypermedia learning and teaching document for introductory courses in social and cultural anthropology (in German).

screenshot of digital learning document

“Diese Lernunterlage gibt einen einführenden Überblick zur wissenschaftlichen Disziplin der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie (KSA) mit besonderem Schwerpunkt auf die Situation und die Arbeit des Instituts für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie an der Universität Wien. Neben der Frage, womit sich Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie beschäftigt und wie sie sich theoriegeschichtlich entwickelt hat, werden ausgewählte Themenbereiche vorgestellt. Die Lernunterlage richtet sich vor allem an StudienanfängerInnen, kann aber ebenso als Informationsquelle oder Lehr- und Lernmittel für allgemein an der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie Interessierte dienen.”

Link:

http://www.univie.ac.at/sowi-online/esowi/cp/einfpropaedksa/einfpropaedksa-titel.html

 

 

Article: Digitale Medientechnologien aus kultur- und sozialanthropologischer Perspektive

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Budka, P. 2013. Digitale Medientechnologien aus kultur- und sozialanthropologischer Perspektive: Überlegungen zu Technologie als materielle Kultur und Fetisch (Digital media technologies from an anthropological perspective: Reflections on technology as material culture and fetish). Medien und Zeit, 28, 1/2013: 22-34.

Abstract

Dieser Aufsatz blickt auf digitale Medientechnologien aus Perspektive der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie. In einem wissenschaftstheoretischen und historischen Abriss werden einerseits Eckpunkte in der Entwicklung relevanter Forschungsfelder, wie die Anthropologie und Ethnographie der Medientechnologien, die Digitale Anthropologie sowie die Anthropologie der Cyberkultur behandelt. Andererseits werden zwei Fallbeispiele aus der ethnographischen Forschungspraxis vorgestellt, die digitale Technologien als materielle Kultur verstehen. Technologie als materielle Kultur erlaubt es die Materialität und die Normativität von Technologien ebenso zu fassen wie deren alltägliche Aneignung in wandelnden soziokulturellen, politischen und ökonomischen Kontexten. Der Aufsatz schließt mit einer Diskussion der Fetischisierung von Technologien, deren Bedeutung und Zusammenhänge.

Text (PDF)

Seminar: Identity, sociality and communality in times of digital media technologies

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In the winter term 2012/2013, I am teaching a seminar on “Identity, sociality and communality in times of digital media technologies” at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna. Students in this course learn about and to work with different forms of identity construction and processes of sociality and communality, which have been made possible through digital media technologies, such as the internet. Students get a brief overview about identity concepts and the possibility to deploy them within empirical research projects.

Find more information about this seminar here: http://www.philbu.net/courses.html

Concept map: Communicative ecologies

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This map visualizes the concept of “communicative ecologies” as introduced by Tacchi, J., Slater, D., Hearn, G. 2003. Ethnographic Action Research: A User’s Handbook. New Delhi: UNESCO, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/4399/. It was done by using the free CMap Tools (click to enlarge).

concept map

Free chapter: “We were on the outside looking in”: MyKnet.org – A First Nations Online Social Environment in Northern Ontario

Free chapter: “We were on the outside looking in”: MyKnet.org – A First Nations Online Social Environment in Northern Ontario published on No Comments on Free chapter: “We were on the outside looking in”: MyKnet.org – A First Nations Online Social Environment in Northern Ontario

Bell, B., Budka, P., Fiser, A. 2012. “We were on the outside looking in”: MyKnet.org – A First Nations online social environment in northern Ontario. In A. Clement, M. Gurstein, G. Longford, M. Moll & L. R. Shade (Eds.), Connecting Canadians: Investigations in Community Informatics (pp. 237-254). Edmonton: Athabasca University Press.

“In 2000, one of Canada’s leading Aboriginal community networks, the Kuh-ke-nah Network, or K-Net, was on the verge of expanding into broadband services. (For more on K-Net, see chapter 14.) K-Net’s management organization, Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council, had acquired funding and resources to become one of Industry Canada’s Smart Communities demonstration projects. Among the innovative services that K-Net introduced at the time was MyKnet.org, a system of personal home pages intended for remote First Nations users in a region of Northern Ontario where numerous communities have lived without adequate residential telecom service well into the millennium (Fiser, Clement, and Walmark 2006; Ramírez et al. 2003). Shortly thereafter, and through K-Net’s community-based Internet infrastructure, this free-of-charge, free-of-advertising, locally supported, online social environment grew from its core constituency of remote First Nations communities to host over 30,000 registered user accounts (of which approximately 20,000 represent active home pages). …”

free chapter download: http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120193

Vortrag: IKT als Werkzeuge zur Reduktion erzwungener Mobilität

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Vortrag im Rahmen der 7. Tage der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie:Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien (IKT) als Werkzeuge zur Reduktion erzwungener Mobilität” (PDF)

Aus dem Inhalt:

  • Indigene in Kanada & im Nordwestlichen Ontario
  • Sitation von First Nations im Nordwestlichen Ontario
  • Indigene IKT im Nordwestlichen Ontario: KO-KNET
  • Reduktion erzwungener Mobilität durch IKT
  • IKT-Anwendungspraktiken: Isolation vs. Sozialität
  • Indigene IKT: Ergebnisse aktueller Studien

Indigene IKT: Ergebnisse aktueller Studien:

  • IKT-Praktiken beeinflussen …
    a) (kulturelle) Identitätskonstruktion & -verhandlung
    b) (soziale) Vergemeinschaftungsformen & -prozesse
    c) Kommunikationspraktiken
  • Entscheidend sind …
    a) Kontrolle von & Bezug zu IKT
    b) Soziokulturelle, geographische & politische Kontexte/Rahmenbedingungen/Möglichkeiten

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