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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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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.

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.

Montreal und CRACIN Workshop

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Montreal, eine multikulturelle und bilinguale Stadt, die ihren Namen dem Berg (Mont Royal) im Herzen der Stadt zu verdanken hat, ist vielleicht die europäischste aller nordamerikanischen Metropolen. Cafés, Pubs mit Gastgärten, Mode- und Schmuckgeschäfte sowie südeuropäische Restaurants und Bars sorgen für den unvergleichlichen Charme für den die zweitgrößte französischsprachige Stadt der westlichen Hemisphäre nach Paris, nicht nur in Kanada, berühmt ist.

Ich hatte nun das Vergnügen in dieser einzigartigen Stadt an dem fünften und gleichzeitig auch letzten Workshop der Canadian Research Alliance for Community Innovation and Networking (CRACIN) teilzunehmen, der an der Concordia University veranstaltet wurde. Das Projekt CRACIN bringt seit 2003 Community Partner und Regierungsvertreter mit Wissenschaftlern und Forschern zusammen, um gemeinsam die Fortschritte und Ergebnisse ausgewählter kanadischer Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologie Initiativen zu untersuchen. K-Net ist etwa einer dieser Community Partner.

Als Außenstehender fand ich die unterschiedlichen Formen der Zusammenarbeit zwischen den Partnern, die nicht notwendiger Weise immer die gleichen Ziele verfolgen, als besonders beeindruckend.

EASA conference

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From 18th to 21st of September the University of Bristol (UK) hosted the 9th Biannual Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA). The topic of this years conference was “Europe and the World”, which attracted more than 900 social- and cultural anthropologists from all around Europe and the World 😉

The EASA Media Anthropology Network organised a workshop, which aimed to contribute to the understanding of media practices. Experienced and young scholars gave papers on theoretical as well as very practical topics, ranging from the meaning of “media practices” to the internet as media practice in West Africa. More information about the workshop and its participants as well as some full-text papers can be found at the event webpage of the Media Anthropology Network’s website.

Workshop
Media Anthropology Workshop at the EASA Conference in Bristol

Telehealth Conference

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Mittwoch und Donnerstag (14. und 15. Juni) fand an der Universität von Toronto die “Ontario First Nation Regional Telehealth Conferencestatt. Mehr als 70 Delegierte und Teilnehmer, mehrheitlich Mitglieder von First Nations aus Ontario, nahmen an der Konferenz teil, um über ihre Erfahrungen mit Telehealth zu diskutieren.

Aber auch Experten und Vertreter von First Nations aus anderen Regionen wurden, teilweise mittels Videokonferenz, in den Konferenzablauf integriert. Dabei wurde schnell klar, dass es nicht sinnvoll und notwendig scheint nach einer allgemein gültigen Definition von Telehealth zu streben, da diese Anwendung von Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien von jedem anders praktiziert und interpretiert werden kann. (Den Versuch einer Definition unternimmt etwa die Wikipedia.)

Eine solche Videokonferenz wurde auch genutzt, um eine Online-Verbindung zu einer abgelegenen First Nation Gemeinschaft im nördlichen Ontario – North Caribou Lake – herzustellen. So konnten die Menschen vor Ort von ihren persönlichen Erfahrungen mit Telehealth berichten.

videoconferencing
Videoconferencing


Ein Instrument, das für den speziellen medizinischen Einsatz und der Betreuung von Menschen via Computer- und Internetverbindung entwickelt wurde und auch bei der Konferenz eingesetzt wurde, ist der sogenannte “iDoc”. Dieses Gerät erlaubt, mittels eingebauter Kameras, etwa dem
behandelten Arzt eine “Echtzeit” Diagnose über das Internet zu stellen und so beispielsweise einen notwendigen Krankentransport in die Wege zu leiten.

iDoc
Demonstration des iDocs


Am Ende der Konferenz war sich die Mehrzahl der Teilnehmer einig, dass
der richtige und zielbewußte Einsatz von Telehealth von großem Nutzen für die First Nations, ihre Kulturen und Gemeinschaften sein kann.

Wie Telehealth vor allem im nördlichen Ontario eingesetzt wird, veranschaulicht eine spezielle K-Net Website: http://telehealth.knet.ca/

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