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Seminar: The Materiality and Visuality of Social Media

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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.

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