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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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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.

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.

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

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