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Seminar: Digital Visuality & Popular Culture

Seminar: Digital Visuality & Popular Culture published on No Comments on Seminar: Digital Visuality & Popular Culture
Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash

The seminar “Digital Visuality and Popular Culture” for the MA program CREOLE at the University of Vienna provides an overview about digital visuality as a key phenomenon of contemporary visual culture and its connection to popular culture. By working on ethnographic research projects, students explore the diversity of digital practices, their visual dimension and their meaning for popular cultural processes and phenomena.

With the advent of digital media and technologies, internet-based devices and services, mobile computing as well as software applications and social media platforms new opportunities and challenges have come to the forefront in the anthropological research of visual culture. Digital media technologies have become ubiquitous means of visual communication, interaction and representation. For anthropology it is of particular interest how people engage with digital media technologies and content, how “the digital” is embedded in everyday life and how it relates to different sociocultural phenomena.

One of these phenomena is popular culture: processes and practices related to the production, circulation and consumption of, for example, music, film, fashion and advertisements as well as the construction and mediation of celebrities. Moreover, popular culture is closely connected to other cultural phenomena such as fan culture, public culture and participatory culture. Fans, for instance, engage in various forms of visual productivity and play a crucial role in the creation and circulation of cultural artifacts related to their fandom such as memes.

By working on different case studies, students get a comparative overview about digital visuality and visual aspects of popular culture. Students conduct ethnographic projects and engage with key questions. What theoretical concepts and analytical categories of sociality can be used to study visual and popular culture? How does digital visuality constitute and mediate cultural performances and rituals? How do social media platforms enable and change visual culture and communication?

Seminar: The Materiality and Visuality of Social Media

Seminar: The Materiality and Visuality of Social Media published on No Comments on Seminar: The Materiality and Visuality of Social Media

This online course for the summer semester 2021 at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna gives a critical overview about the material and visual dimension of social media and their interconnection. 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 platforms are integrated and embedded into everyday life, by considering changing sociocultural, political and economic contexts. Students therefore explore and discuss the relevance of a material culture approach for (the understanding of) technology appropriation as well as (culturally) different digital-visual practices. By working on case studies in small empirical projects and by sharing and comparing their findings, students gain insights into material and visual culture in a digital context.

Selected Literature

  • Dourish, P. (2016). Rematerializing the platform: Emulation and the digital–material. In S. Pink, E. Ardevol, & D. Lanzeni (Eds.), Digital materialities: Design and anthropology (pp. 29–44). Oxford: Bloomsbury.
  • Favero, P. (2018). The present image: Visible stories in a digital habitat. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Góralska, M. (2020). Anthropology from home: Advice on digital ethnography for the pandemic times. Anthropology in Action, 27(1), 46–52.
  • Horst, H., & Miller, D. (2012). Normativity and materiality: A view from digital anthropology. Media International Australia, 145(1), 103–111.
  • Miller, D., & Sinanan, J. (2017). Visualising Facebook: A comparative perspective. London: UCL Press.
  • Miller, D., et al. (2016). How the world changed social media. London: UCL Press.
  • Pink, S. (2017). Technologies, possibilities, emergence and an ethics of responsibility: Refiguring techniques. In E. Gómez Cruz, S. Sumartojo & S. Pink (Eds.), Refiguring techniques in digital visual research (pp. 1–12). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Sumiala, J, et al. (2020). Just a ‘stupid reflex’? Digital witnessing of the Charlie Hebdo attacks and the mediation of conflict. In P. Budka & B. Bräuchler (Eds.), Theorising Media and Conflict. Anthropology of Media Vol. 10 (pp. 57–75). New York & Oxford: Berghahn Books.
  • Walton, S. (2018). Remote ethnography, virtual presence: Exploring digital-visual methods for anthropological research on the web. In. C. Costa & J. Condie (Eds.), Doing research in and on the digital: Research methods across fields of enquiry (pp. 116–33). New York: Routledge.

Films & videos on media activism & more

Films & videos on media activism & more published on No Comments on Films & videos on media activism & more

This is a selection of films and videos on mediated activism, anthropological perspectives on media and culture, and globalization and (de)colonization in relation to media.
Compiled by Philipp Budka with the generous support of colleagues of the EASA Media Anthropology Network and the EASA Visual Anthropology Network.

Al Jazeera (2017). Podemos vs the Spanish Media. (10.27 min.). (openly available)

Balmès, T. (2014). Happiness. (80 min.). (not openly available)

Bardet, S. et al. (212). The Himbas are Shooting!. (52 min.). (not openly available)

Bishop, J., & Prins, H. (2003). Oh, what a blow that phantom gave me! (52 min.). (not openly available)

Cavallone, E. (2016). Media & conflicts: Dangerous liaisons, an INFOCORE study reveals. (8 min.). (openly available)

CBC News: The National (2012). Idle No More. (2.39 min.). (openly available)

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