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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. https://doi.org/10.3167/aia.2020.270105
  • Horst, H., & Miller, D. (2012). Normativity and materiality: A view from digital anthropology. Media International Australia, 145(1), 103–111. https://doi.org/10.1177/1329878X1214500112
  • Miller, D., & Sinanan, J. (2017). Visualising Facebook: A comparative perspective. London: UCL Press. https://www.uclpress.co.uk/collections/series-why-we-post/products/83994
  • Miller, D., et al. (2016). How the world changed social media. London: UCL Press. https://www.uclpress.co.uk/collections/series-why-we-post/products/83040
  • 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.

MyKnet.org: Traces of digital decoloniality in an indigenous web-based environment

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This blog post is a shorter version of a paper presented at the Engaging with Web Archives (EWA20) conference in September 2020 (Book of Abstracts).
Budka, P. (2020). MyKnet.org: Traces of digital decoloniality in an indigenous web-based environment. Paper at Engaging with Web Archives (EWA20): “Opportunities, Challenges and Potentialities”, Online (hosted by Maynooth University), 21-22 September.

This blog post builds on selected results of an anthropological project that explored various indigenous engagements with digital media, technologies and infrastructures in Northwestern Ontario, Canada (e.g., Budka, 2015, 2019; Budka et al. 2009). The project was conducted in cooperation with the First Nations internet organization Keewaytinook Okimakanak Kuh-ke-nah Network (KO-KNET).

In this post I briefly reflect upon traces of “digital decoloniality”, a concept borrowed from Alexandra Deem (2019), by exploring selected aspects of the sociotechnical history of KO-KNET’s web-based environment MyKnet.org and by discussing facets of a MyKnet.org user’s digital biography.

KO-KNET & MyKnet.org

KO-KNET Network, 2010, courtesy of KO-KNET

In 1994, the tribal council Keewaytinook Okimakanak (KO) established the Kuh-ke-nah Network (KO-KNET) to connect Canada’s indigenous people in Northwestern Ontario’s remote communities through and to the internet. At that time, a local telecommunication infrastructure was almost non-existent. KO-KNET started with a simple bulletin board system that developed into a community-controlled ICT infrastructure, which today includes landline and satellite broadband internet as well as internet-based mobile phone communication (e.g. Fiser & Clement, 2012).

Together with local, regional and national partners, KO-KNET developed different services: from e-health and an internet high school to different remote training programs. The most mundane of those services was the digital environment MyKnet.org, which enabled First Nations people to create personal homepages within a cost- and commercial-free space on the web.

MyKnet.org was set up in 1998 exclusively for the First Nations people of Northwestern Ontario. By the early 2000s, a wide set of actors across Northwestern Ontario, a region with an overall indigenous population of about 45,000, had found a new home on this web-based platform. During its heyday, MyKnet.org had more than 30,000 registered user accounts and about 25,000 active homepages.

With the advent and rise of commercial social media platforms, such as Facebook, user numbers began to drop. To reduce administrative and technical costs, KO-KNET decided to switch to WordPress as hosting platform in 2014. Since this required users to set up new websites, numbers continued to fall. In early 2019, there were only 2,900 homepages left and MyKnet.org was shut down a couple of months later.

Continue reading MyKnet.org: Traces of digital decoloniality in an indigenous web-based environment

Panel “Digital Ethnography: Revisiting Theoretical Concepts & Methodological Approaches”

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Panel “Digital Ethnography: Revisiting Theoretical Concepts & Methodological Approaches” @ Vienna Anthropology Days 2020 (VANDA2020, Sept. 28 – Oct. 1), convened by Philipp Budka & Monika Palmberger.
More details, including the paper abstracts, to be found at https://vanda.univie.ac.at/scientific-program/.

Session 1

Rebecca Carlson (Temple University / TMDU): Online with bioinformatic scientists in Tokyo: Doing digital ethnography in a pandemic

Simone Pfeifer (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz): Digital ethnography on, with, and through social media and messenger services: Ethical and methodological reflections from two different research projects

Monika Palmberger (University of Vienna): “New media of care”: Methodological reflections on digital diaries

Annika Richterich (University of Sussex): Critical making and digital ethnography

Franziska Weidle (Brandenburg University of Technology): Co-creating with software: Towards a computational correspondence in digital ethnography

Session 2

Cristiane Damasceno (UNC Greensboro): Innovative research methods for the disinformation age

Marie Hermanová (Czech Academy of Sciences): Too real is fake: Authenticity and digital intimacy between influencers and researchers

Christian Ritter (Tallinn University): Mediated relationships and remote ethnography: Following the rise and fall of travel influencers

Suzana Jovicic (University of Vienna): Neither here nor there: Smartphone in the ethnographic encounter

Libuše Veprek (LMU Munich): Bringing the subject into focus in large scale textual data analysis

Session 3

Maria Schreiber (University of Salzburg): #strokesurvivor: Studying a “hashtag public” on Instagram

Zoë Glatt (LSE): Becoming a YouTuber: (Auto)ethnographic explorations of the online video industry

Xiaowei Huang (Guangzhou College of Commerce): Second Life, ethnography and virtual culture

Philipp Budka (University of Vienna): Digital ethnography and web archives: The case of an indigenous web-based environment

CfP: Digital Ethnography: Revisiting Theoretical Concepts and Methodological Approaches

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Call for Papers for Panel “Digital Ethnography: Revisiting Theoretical Concepts and Methodological Approaches” at Vienna Anthropology Days (VANDA), 28 Sept. – 1 Oct. 2020, University of Vienna, Austria.

Organizers

Philipp Budka (University of Vienna)
Monika Palmberger (University of Vienna)

Abstract

Ethnographic research has the potential to dig deep into mediated personal relationships as well as into socio-technical relations in an increasingly digitized and digitalized world (e.g., Hjorth et al. 2017; Horst & Miller, 2012; Pink et al., 2016). In order to do so, ethnographers and anthropologists have engaged with a variety of digital and multimodal methods such as online ethnographic fieldwork and participant observation, digital storytelling, mobile and visual media elicitation, digital media biographies, and digital video re-enactments (e.g., Pink et al., 2016). Their research has opened up new knowledge horizons such as the changing emotional, normative or symbolic dimensions of complex social relations and cultural practices entangled with new digital media technologies.

This session provides room for critical and ethical reflections on theory and methodology in the field of digital anthropology/ethnography, including, but not limited to, the following questions:

  • Which theoretical concepts are particularly fruitful in the ethnographic and anthropological exploration of digital phenomena?  
  • How are such concepts entangled with methodological approaches and challenges, for example by reconsidering issues of collaboration, decolonization, confidentiality or intimacy?  
  • How can we do participant observation when communication and interaction are increasingly ‘individualized’ and veiled due to digital technologies, particularly the smartphone?  
  • Which forms of collecting, interpreting and representing empirical data do we aspire for?

This session invites presenters to revisit previous discussions and critically reflect upon current relevant debates in anthropology and beyond. Papers may be empirically, methodologically or theoretically driven.

Deadline & Submission

Please submit your paper abstracts (max. 350 words) online via the conference system latest by 1 July 2020.

Blog Post Series: Von der Cyberanthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie – Teil 3

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Diese Serie von Blogeinträgen beschreibt die Relevanz kultur- und sozialanthropologischer Zugänge in der Untersuchung digitaler Technik und Technologien, dargestellt anhand wissenschaftstheoretischer Aspekte in der Entwicklung der Forschungsfelder der “Cyberanthropologie” und der “Digitalen Anthropologie”. Kommentare und/oder Anmerkungen sind dezidiert erwünscht.
Die einzelnen Blogeinträge bauen, leicht verändert, auf einen Text, der 2019 im Sammelband Ritualisierung – Meditatisierung – Performance publiziert wurde:
Budka, P. (2019). Von der Cyber Anthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie. Über die Rolle der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie im Verstehen soziotechnischer Lebenswelten. In M. Luger, F. Graf & P. Budka (Eds.), Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance (pp. 163-188). Göttingen: V&R Unipress/Vienna University Press. https://doi.org/10.14220/9783737005142.163

Von der Cyberanthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie – Eine Einleitung

Während in den Anfängen der anthropologischen Analyse von neuen digitalen Informations-, Kommunikations- und Medientechnologien noch von “Cyberanthropologie” bzw. “Cyberanthropology” (z.B. Budka/Kremser 2004; Knorr 2011) gesprochen wurde, werden diese Begriffe zunehmend von der Bezeichnung “Digitale Anthropologie” (z. B. Horst/Miller 2012) abgelöst.1 Obwohl sich die Bezeichnungen dieses Forschungsfeldes im Laufe der Jahre und unter Einfluss unterschiedlicher wissenschaftlicher Disziplinen sowie gesellschaftlicher und (populär)kultureller Trends änderten, blieben die Forschungsthemen und -schwerpunkte ähnlich: die soziokulturellen Implikationen und Bedeutungen neuer, digitaler Technologien. Dabei befassen sich AnthropologInnen oftmals mit den Verbindungen zwischen digitalen Technologien, Medien oder Kommunikationsformen einerseits und soziokulturellen Phänomenbereichen andererseits, die traditionell intensiv in der Disziplin bearbeitet werden, wie gesellschaftliche Beziehungen und Organisationsformen, kulturell unterschiedliche Formen der Kommunikation und Identitätskonstruktion, Ritualdynamiken und religiöse Prozesse oder ökonomische Praktiken (z. B. Budka/Kremser 2004; Horst/Miller 2012; Schröder/Voell 2002; Whitehead/Wesch 2012b).

Internet Café, Toronto, Canada. Photo by Philipp Budka

Das soziotechnische Phänomen, das die anthropologische Forschung zu digitalen Medientechnologien entscheidend vorantrieb, ist das Internet.2 Daniel Miller und Don Slater (2000: 14), die eine der ersten ethnographischen Studien über das Internet durchführten, betonen bereits hier, dass das Internet kein ausschließlich technisches, technologisches oder infrastrukturelles Phänomen sei, sondern auch ein soziokulturelles: Es ermöglicht Kommunikation, soziale Interaktion und kulturelle Repräsentation und ist nicht zuletzt deshalb Gegenstand anthropologischer Forschung (siehe auch Hart 2004). Das Internet und das World Wide Web (WWW)3 versprachen eine ganze Reihe von Dingen: unmittelbare globale Kommunikation, vernetztes Organisieren von Information und neue Formen von Politik, Ökonomie und Sozialität.

Howard Rheingold (2000: xviii), beispielsweise, betonte die Tragweite des “Cyberspace” für politische Freiheit und die Veränderung des “realen Lebens” durch die Etablierung “virtueller Gemeinschaften”. In der Untersuchung dieser neuen Vergemeinschaftungsformen befassten sich die ersten sozialwissenschaftlichen InternetforscherInnen zunächst mit deren (kommunikativen) Strukturen und ihrer (soziologischen) Entwicklung (z. B. Jones 1995; Smith/Kollock 1999). In der Folge verschob sich der Forschungsfokus auf den (sozialen) Netzwerkcharakter von Gesellschaften und Gemeinschaften, der sich, zumindest nach Meinung einiger SoziologInnen, im Internetzeitalter verstärkt und sogar konstituierend für das digital vernetzte Individuum ist (z. B. Castells 2000; Rainie/Wellman 2012).

Continue reading Blog Post Series: Von der Cyberanthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie – Teil 3

Digital and Online Ethnography – A Selection of Resources

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Below you find a selection of resources on digital and online ethnography – with a slight focus on anthropological research – compiled by Philipp Budka.
To add and share your resources and/or references, please use this collaborative document.

Literature:

Baym, N. (2010). Personal connections in the digital age. Cambridge: Polity.

Bell, D., & Kennedy, B. M. (Eds.). (2000) The Cybercultures Reader. London: Routledge.

Boellstorff, T. (2016). For whom the ontology turns: Theorizing the digital real. Current Anthropology, 57(4), 387–407. https://doi.org/10.1086/687362

Boellstorff, T. (2013). Digital anthropology. In Oxford Bibliographies. https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199766567/obo-9780199766567-0087.xml

Boellstorff, T. (2008). Coming of age in Second Life: An anthropologist explores the virtually human. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Boellstorff, et al. (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Bräuchler, B. (2013). Cyberidentities at war: The Moluccan conflict on the Internet. New York: Berghahn Books.

Buchanan, E. A. (2004). Readings in virtual research ethics: Issues and controversies. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.

Budka, P. (2018). [Review of the book Digital environments: Ethnographic perspectives across global online and offline spaces, by U. U. Frömming, S. Köhn, S. Fox & M. Terry]. Anthropos, 113(1), 303-304. http://www.philbu.net/blog/review-digital-environments-ethnographic-perspectives-across-global-online-and-offline-spaces/

Budka, P. (2015). [Review of the book Cyberidentities at war: The Moluccan conflict on the Internet, by B. Bräuchler]. American Anthropologist, 117(1), 179-180. https://doi.org/10.1111/aman.12197 http://www.philbu.net/blog/review-cyberidentities-at-war-the-moluccan-conflict-on-the-internet/

Budka, P., & Kremser, M. (2004). CyberAnthropology – anthropology of cyberculture. In S. Khittel, B. Plankensteiner & M. Six-Hohenbalken (Eds.), Contemporary issues in socio-cultural anthropology: Perspectives and research activities from Austria (pp. 213-226). Vienna: Loecker Verlag.
http://www.philbu.net/budka_kremser_cyberanthro.pdf

Coleman, G. E. (2010). Ethnographic approaches to digital media. Annual Review of Anthropology 39(1), 487-505. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.104945

Continue reading Digital and Online Ethnography – A Selection of Resources

Seminar: Digital Technologies as Material Culture 2020

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In this MA seminar at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna, we explore digital media technologies from an anthropological/ethnographic perspective in the context of material culture.
More info

This course gives an overview about material culture as a conceptual and practical approach to understand digital technologies. In doing so, it focuses on the everyday incorporation and utilization of digital technologies.

Mobile networked digital media technologies, such as smart phones, as well as 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 digital devices and technologies are integrated and embedded into everyday life, by considering changing sociocultural, political and economic contexts. This course focuses in particular on the material aspects of digital technologies and how they are utilized on a day-to-day basis. Questions about the relevance of a material culture approach for (the understanding of) technology appropriation – on a theoretical and practical level – as well as questions about (culturally) different usage practices are discussed. How does the understanding and conceptualization of digital technology as material culture contribute to the exploration and analyses of contemporary and emerging sociocultural practices and processes in increasingly digital societies?

By working on different online case studies, students get a comparative overview about material culture in a digital context.

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CfP: Engaged media anthropology in the digital age

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The EASA Media Anthropology Network is organizing an official network panel at the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) 2020 conference in Lisbon (21-24 July). Find the call for papers below and online:
https://nomadit.co.uk/conference/easa2020/p/8591

For more general information about the call and the conference, navigate to:
https://easaonline.org/conferences/easa2020/cfp
https://easaonline.org/conferences/easa2020/

The call closes on 20 January 2020.

Engaged media anthropology in the digital age

Organizers
Philipp Budka (University of Vienna) and Sahana Udupa (LMU Munich)

Abstract
The relative ease of access and potential disruptive features of digital media have opened up new opportunities for media anthropologists to extend their field relations into durable public engagement. These possibilities have encouraged anthropologists to collaboratively design various public engagement initiatives to harness digital media technologies and infrastructures for social justice goals including health, education, environmental protection, gender parity and political inclusion. Such direct interventions have gone hand in hand with critical perspectives on how “the digital” has played a key role in enabling political cultures of indignity and injustice – from online extreme speech to digitally enabled surveillance and algorithmic bias. This panel will foreground these two distinct, yet interrelated, aspects of engaged media anthropology: community projects that involve direct participation of anthropologists in designing digital platforms and applications, and in supporting local forms of media/digital activism; and studies that envision an inclusive future through public intervention strategies of critique and discursive resistance. A key question that drives this panel is whether the latest examples of engaged media anthropology that are enabled by digital technologies and infrastructures have signaled a break from the imperial logic of upliftment and betterment as a means to consolidate colonial power or whether enduring injustices are questioned through new means of collaboration and dialogue. What are the promises and limitations of engaged media anthropology in the digital age?

Lecture/Seminar: Ethnography and Digital Media 2019

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In this lecture/seminar at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, we discuss how ethnography contributes to the exploration, description and understanding of digitally mediated processes and practices (in German).

In dieser Lehrveranstaltung erhalten Studierende einen Einblick in die Ethnographie digitaler Medien. Dabei werden sowohl theoretische Zugänge und Konzepte als auch praxisnahen Anwendungs- und Erfahrungswerte vermittelt.

Digitale Medien – wie Internet, Social Media und Smartphones – ermöglichen neue Formen medialer Kommunikation und Repräsentation, die in Zusammenhang mit unterschiedlichen soziokulturellen, politischen und ökonomischen Faktoren und Dimensionen stehen. Diese Medientechnologien überbrücken nicht nur Zeit und Raum, sie gestalten diese neu. Sie ermöglichen die Vernetzung und Mobilisierung von Menschen und die Konstruktion vielfältiger Formen von individueller und kollektiver Identität. Welche theoretischen und methodologischen Zugänge sind hilfreich, um neue digitale Medientechnologien und damit zusammenhängende Praktiken und Sozialitäten zu beschreiben und zu analysieren? Können wir auf das “klassische” methodische Repertoire der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie zurückgreifen oder benötigt es neue digitale Methoden und Techniken? Welche Bedeutung haben etwa Datensicherung und die Archivierung von digitalen Artefakten? Und welche ethischen Aspekte in der Digitalen Ethnographie gilt es zu beachten?
Studierende lernen anhand von konkreten Fallbeispielen, ausgewählte theoretische und methodologische Zugänge kennen. Sie gewinnen so einen Überblick über die Diversität digitaler Phänomene, Prozesse und Praktiken sowie deren ethnographische Beschreibung und Untersuchung.

Literatur (Auswahl)

Boellstorff, T., Nardi, B., Pearce, C., & Taylor, T. L. (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Budka, P. (2019). Von der Cyber Anthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie. Über die Rolle der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie im Verstehen soziotechnischer Lebenswelten. In M. Luger, F. Graf & P. Budka (Eds.), Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance (pp. 163-188). Göttingen: V&R Unipress/Vienna University Press.

Hakken, D. (1999). Cyborgs@Cyberspace: An ethnographer looks to the future. London: Routledge.

Hjorth, L, Horst, H., Galloway, A., & Bell, G. (2016). The Routledge Companion to digital ethnography. New York: Routledge.

Miller, D., & Slater, D. (2002). Ethnography and the extreme Internet. In T. H. Eriksen (Ed.), Globalisation: Studies in anthropology (pp. 39-57). London: Pluto Press.

Pink, S., Horst, H., Postill, J., Hjorth, L., Lewis, T., & Tacchi, J. (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.

More info: https://ufind.univie.ac.at/en/course.html?lv=240033&semester=2019W

Presentation: MyKnet.org: The cultural history & social life of an indigenous web-based environment

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Budka, P. (2019). MyKnet.org: The cultural history and social life of an indigenous web-based environment. Paper at “The Web That Was: Archives, Traces, Reflections” Conference (RESAW19), Amsterdam, Netherlands: University of Amsterdam, 21 June. Presentation (PDF)

Ethnographic Vignette

In the summer of 2006, during my first field trip to Northwestern Ontario, I visited the Frenchman’s Head community of Lac Seul First Nation which is one of the region’s few non-remote indigenous communities that can be reached by car and by boat. In the Band Office, the community’s largest administrative building, I was introduced to 16 year old Candice, a well known MyKnet.org user. She told me that she did set up her first MyKnet.org page a couple of years ago to stay in touch with friends and family and to let people know about her life. To communicate with friends and family members, she added a c-box to her homepage where people could leave messages.

As I found out later, almost everyone in the Band Office had a MyKnet.org homepage. Even though some didn’t know how to work with their websites. They needed the help of young, web-savvy colleagues, friends and family members. Candice introduced me to an older lady who told me that she had to register for a new MyKnet.org page only two weeks ago because her original page was registered under her now divorced husband’s name. And since she didn’t want to be constantly reminded of this, she needed a new homepage. KO-KNET, the First Nations internet organization that has been managing the MyKnet.org homepage service, only approves registrations with real, locally known, First Nation names that are then displayed in the URL of the page.

Candice helped her setting up the page, finding and applying the right layout and updating the content. As she told me later, she was regularly reminding other employees at the office to keep their respective homepages up to date. She also told me that she has started to use other, commercial website providers, such as Piczo (2002-2012). They were easier to use than MyKnet.org and provided more web space and technical features and possibilities.

Digitale Anthropologie

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Dieser Text wurde 2017 für den Blog der Universität Wien geschrieben; für eine überarbeitete und erweiterte Version des Textes siehe
Budka, P. 2019. Von der Cyber Anthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie. Über die Rolle der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie im Verstehen soziotechnischer Lebenswelten. In: Luger, M., Graf, F. & Budka, P. (Hg.), Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance. Göttingen: V&R Unipress/Vienna University Press, 163-188.

Die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie ist längst nicht mehr nur die Wissenschaft von „einfachen“, außereuropäischen Gesellschaften und Kulturen. Seit Jahrzehnten forscht die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie kulturvergleichend zu komplexen Prozessen, Entwicklungen und Veränderungen in allen menschlichen Gesellschaften und Kulturen. Da war es nur eine Frage der Zeit bis die ersten Kultur- und SozialanthropologInnen begannen sich auch mit digitalen Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien (IKT), wie dem Internet, Smartphones oder Sozialen Medien, auseinander zu setzen. Die Wiener Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie war dabei – zumindest im deutschen Sprachraum – unter den ersten, die sich mit den Verbindungen und Zusammenhängen zwischen digitalen Medientechnologien und soziokulturellen Phänomenbereichen aus spezifisch anthropologischer/ethnologischer Perspektive befassten.

In diesem Blogbeitrag gehe ich der Frage nach, welche Rolle die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie in der Untersuchung und in weiterer Folge im Verstehen digitaler Medientechnologien spielt. Andere Aspekte der Digitalisierung dieser Disziplin – wie z.B. computerunterstützte Forschungsprojekte und -methoden, neue Publikationsmöglichkeiten durch Open Access, neue Wege der Präsentation und Kommunikation von Forschung mittels Blogs oder Sozialer Medien sowie neue Methoden und Strategien für Lernen und Lehre – kann ich hier nicht näher diskutieren.

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Paper: The anthropology of digital visuality

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Budka, P. (2018). The anthropology of digital visuality: Notes on comparison, context and relationality. Paper at Vienna Anthropology Days 2018 (VANDA2018), Vienna, Austria: University of Vienna, 20 September.

Sociocultural anthropology provides theoretical approaches and concepts to comparatively study local life-worlds, to contextualize cultural meaning, and to (re)consider human/non-human and socio-technical relations that have been emerging with digital media technologies (e.g. Horst & Miller 2012, Moore 2012, Whitehead & Wesch 2012). Ethnography and ethnographic fieldwork, as methodological tools, allow for investigating digital practices and processes by considering the above aspects (Pink et al. 2016). For anthropology it is of particular interest how people engage on a day-to-day basis with digital media and technologies, internet-based devices and services, mobile computing as well as software applications and digital platforms.

In this paper, I discuss, from an anthropological perspective and through brief ethnographic examples, digital visuality as a contemporary phenomenon that constitutes emerging patterns of visual communication and culture. In addition, I am briefly discussing digital visuality as a concept to approach and investigate the visual in digital times.

Digital media technologies and mobile networked devices, such as smart phones, have become ubiquitous means of visual production, communication and representation (e.g. Gómez Cruz et al. 2017). Moreover, digital platforms and social media services, such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, are utilized to share and consume visual artefacts. Constituting and changing thus communicative practices and visual culture alike. Consequently, these transformation processes provide new challenges and possibilities for the anthropological and ethnographic study of the visual (e.g. Pink 2011).

Digital visuality

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E-Seminar: The digital turn: New directions in media anthropology

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Udupa, S., Costa, E., & Budka, P. (2018) The digital turn: New directions in media anthropology.
Discussion Paper for the Follow-Up E-Seminar on the EASA Media Anthropology Network Panel “The Digital Turn” at the 15th European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 14-17 August 2018.

63rd EASA Media Anthropology Network E-Seminar: 16-30 October 2018, via the network’s Mailing List.

With the advent of digital media technologies, internet-based devices and services, mobile computing as well as software applications and digital platforms new opportunities and challenges have come to the forefront in the anthropological study of media. For media anthropology and related fields, such as digital and visual anthropology, it is of particular interest how people engage with digital media and technologies; how digital devices and tools are integrated and embedded in everyday life; and how they are entangled with different social practices and cultural processes. The digital turn in media anthropology signals the growing importance of digital media technologies in contemporary sociocultural, political and economic processes. This panel suggested that the digital turn could be seen a paradigm shift in the anthropological study of media, and foregrounded three important streams of exploration that might indicate new directions in the anthropology of media.

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Panel: “Digital Visuality” @ VANDA 2018

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PANEL “DIGITAL VISUALITY” @ Vienna Anthropology Days (VANDA) 2018 (September 19-22, 2018)

Convenors:
Elke Mader & Philipp Budka

Thursday, 20 September
11:00-17:00
Room 4 (New Institute Building (NIG) of the University of Vienna, Universitätsstraße 7)

Paper Presentations:
(Timetable)

Philipp Budka: The Anthropology of Digital Visuality: Notes on Comparison, Context and Relationality

Harjant Gill: Introduction to Multimodal Anthropologies

Petr Nuska: “Changing the Equipment or Changing the Perspective?” – Exploring Film and Video Approach in Visual Ethnography

Katja Müller: Contemporary Photography in India – Post-media Aesthetics, Traditional Art and Economic Professionalism

Uschi Klein: What Does a Photograph Really Tell Us? The Photography of Young Male Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Fatma Sagir: “We Can See Your Hair, Dina!” – Muslim Female Embodiments of Digital Visibilities

Nadia Molek: Argentinian Slovenians Online: Facebook Groups of Slovenian Descendants in Argentina as Mediators of Identity Performances and Rituals
(via Skype)

Daria Radchenko: Digital Anthropology and/or Digital Traces: Seeing the City Through the Eyes of Locals

Elke Mader: Mediating the Krampus: Digital Visuality, Ritual and Cultural Performance

VANDA 2018 Full Program

Review: Digital environments: Ethnographic perspectives across global online and offline spaces

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Budka, P. (2018). [Review of the book Digital environments: Ethnographic perspectives across global online and offline spaces, by U. U. Frömming, S. Köhn, S. Fox & M. Terry]. Anthropos, 113(1), 303-304.

The edited volume “Digital Environments: Ethnographic Perspectives Across Global Online and Offline Spaces” is a collection of 16 essays by students and graduates of the M.A. Programme in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Free University Berlin. This is the first special feature of the book. The second is the anthropological and ethnographic perspective from which the individual texts discuss a diversity of digital technologies, platforms, services as well as related sociocultural phenomena, events and practices. As Sarah Pink in the book’s foreword notes, these texts and the underlying projects “focus on central issues of the discipline … through the prism of visual and media anthropology” (p. 10). Being not part of the anthropological mainstream, this visual and media anthropology perspective holds the potential of providing exiting new insights in digital culture and our increasingly digitalised societies. The digital ethnography perspective, on the other hand, focuses on “the ways in which technologies have become inseparable from other materialities and human activities” including ethnographic fieldwork, as Urte Undine Frömming, Steffen Köhn, Samantha Fox and Mike Terry note in the introduction chapter (p. 15).
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