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Interview: On COVID-19 & digital technologies in everyday life

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In May 2020, I was asked by the European Science-Media Hub of the European Parliament to participate in a short written interview about COVID-19 and digital technologies in everyday life. The interview can be found below and on the website of the European Science-Media Hub, where it is also part of the new Digital Humanities Series.
Comments are, as always, more than welcome.

Q: How do you evaluate the current push to “live” our personal lives with and through digital technologies?

As an anthropologist who has been exploring digital phenomena from a social and cultural perspective for more than 15 years, I wouldn’t describe the current situation as a “push” to a more digitized and digitalized life, but rather as an accelerated development, which includes social, technological and economic changes and transformations in all sectors of society (Thomas Hylland Eriksen nicely illustrates the aspect of accelerated change in relation to globalization in his book Overheating [2016]).

People have been living their lives with and through digital technologies long before the current health crisis – some more, some less. In 2006, when I started to conduct an ethnographic project about the appropriation and utilization of internet technologies in remote indigenous communities in north-western Ontario, Canada, I learned that due to the region’s geographical remoteness and people’s sociotechnical isolation, self-organized infrastructural connectivity and self-designed internet-based services and programs were well underway for some years. Local people were using all sorts of digital media and technologies to connect to each other, to create online presences and digital identities, and to access globally distributed information. Internet services, such as online learning and video conferencing, were – thanks to broadband connectivity – already embedded into local everyday life.

I notice similar tendencies in Europe today, where people have been forced to isolate and distance themselves due to COVID–19; not only from family and friends, but also from colleagues at work and school. E-learning, for example, has become part of the everyday learning experience. Which is probably not a big issue for students, who grew up with digital technologies and social media and are therefore used to computer-mediated communication and interaction, but certainly a challenge for institutions and teachers who are not yet that familiar with digital technologies in an educational context. In respect to digitality, I understand the current health crisis as a phenomenon that has been speeding things up. Our lives have become more digital; faster than expected, but not necessarily different than without the virus.

Q: More generally, what did you find in your project about the blending of our intimate space with the professional, the administrative, the cultural and the political spheres by means of digital technology?

Throughout my career, I have been involved in anthropological projects about the sociocultural consequences of digital media and technologies, which build on ethnographic fieldwork as the key methodological approach. Such an approach situates the researcher into the daily life of research participants over a considerable period of time. The intimate, the personal and the private are therefore central to the work of anthropologists and difficult to artificially separate from collective spheres of sociality. People have always brought their personal positions and individual interpretations – that are shaped by intimate experiences – into politics or the workplace, for instance. However, through digital and networked technologies, it is much easier today to identify, share and also manipulate private data and personalized information.

From an anthropological perspective, it is important to emphasize that there are cultural differences. Not all people share Euro-American conceptions of privacy or intimacy and therefore indicate different concerns over these matters in respect to digital life. While people in remote north-western Ontario, for example, were well aware that their very personal reflections, which they openly posted and shared in an online environment, can be potentially accessed globally, they were not concerned. They rather experienced this environment as a purely local space of expression for indigenous people only, not of any interest to outsiders (for more ethnographic examples in different cultural contexts, see, e.g. the results of Daniel Miller’s Why We Post project).

Due to the rise of social media monopoly, platform capitalism, the Cambridge Analytica scandal and current debates about COVID–19 tracing apps, digital privacy and surveillance are high on the public and political agenda, particularly in Europe. However, as anthropological evidence continues to show, related ideas and concepts are perceived and evaluated differently also because of cultural diversity.

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

Seminar: Media Activism

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For the MA Program “Visual and Media Anthropology” at the Free University Berlin, I am organizing a newly developed seminar on media activism.

Course Description

Activism with/in/through media can be broadly understood as forms of technology mediated activism that intend to spark, create and/or support social and political change. So change (and therefore continuity) is at the heart of media activism, as, for instance, Kidd and Rodriguez (2009: 1) note: “Grassroots media have grown from a set of small and isolated experiments to a complex of networks of participatory communications that are integral to local, national, and transnational projects of social change”. Since media activism is related to a diversity of phenomena – such as power relationships, conflict or globalization – as well as to questions about the conception of time and space, organizational structures, collective identities and different forms of sociality, it has become a broad, interdisciplinary research field. This course gives an overview of media activism from a predominantly anthropological and ethnographic perspective.

When engaging with media activism, a variety of contexts, theoretical conceptualizations and methodological approaches have to be considered. In this course, students learn about these aspects by reviewing relevant literature and by discussing different forms and examples of media activism and related questions, issues and problems:

  • How can we contextualize media activism and related practices in anthropology?
  • What historical developments can we identify? And what does this tell us about contemporary activist processes and practices?
  • What is the role of (sociocultural and technological) change, politics, power, globalization and (de)colonization in an anthropological engagement with media activism?
  • How can we ethnographically describe and analyze media activist processes and practices? What are the possibilities and challenges?
  • How can we understand media activism in digital times and in the age of social media? What has changed?
  • What does it mean to interpret and conceptualize media activism as (a form or a part of) cultural activism?

Reference

Kidd, D., & Rodriguez, C. (2009). Introduction. In C. Rodriguez, D. Kidd, & L. Stein (Eds.), Making our media: Global initiatives toward a democratic public sphere, Volume 1: Creating new communication spaces (pp. 1-22). New York: Hampton Press.

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Book: Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance

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Luger, M., Graf, F., & Budka, P. (Eds.). (2019). Ritualisierung – Mediatisierung – Performance. (Ritualization – Mediatization – Performance). Göttingen: V&R Unipress/Vienna University Press.

Abstract
Ritualisierung, Mediatisierung und Performance dienen als konzeptionelle Hilfsmittel, um Veränderungen und Kontinuitäten im Alltagsleben sozialer Akteurinnen und Akteure sowie in spezifischen Kontexten zu situieren. Dieser Band zeigt anhand konkreter ethnographischer Beispiele, dass rituelle, mediale und performative Prozesse und Praktiken idealerweise gemeinsam, in ihrer Relationalität zueinander betrachtet werden. Neben einem Schwerpunkt auf Transformation enthält der Band Beiträge zu ausgewählten Aspekten der Theorie, Methode und Geschichte der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie und zu einer Ethnographie und Kulturgeschichte der Karibik, die sozialen Status, religiöse Praxis und Erinnerung behandeln sowie Texte, die Verbindungen zwischen politischen, medialen und kulturellen Sphären diskutieren.

Ritualization, mediatization and performance are conceptual tools to situate sociocultural change and continuity in everyday life and in specific contexts. By building on ethnographic case studies, this volume demonstrates that ritual, media and performative processes and practices are best explored in relation to each other. In addition to a general focus on transformation, this book includes contributions on selected aspects of the theory, methodology and history of social and cultural anthropology. Chapters about the history and ethnography of the Caribbean that discuss social status, religious practices and cultural remembrance, as well as texts that explore the connections between political, media and cultural spheres complement the volume.

Inhaltsverzeichnis
Martin Luger / Philipp Budka / Franz Graf
Kultur- und sozialanthropologische Perspektiven auf Ritualisierung, Mediatisierung und Performance. Eine Einleitung
Marion Linska
Selbstfürsorge im Feld. Überlegungen aus existenzanalytischer Perspektive
Yvonne Schaffler / Bernd Brabec de Mori
»Cuando el misterio insiste« – »Wenn sich der Geist Gehör verschafft«. Die Kunst der Überzeugung im dominikanischen Vodou
Stephanie Schmiderer
Präsenz der Gottheiten. Zum Verständnis transformativer Performance im haitianischen Vodou und seiner Diaspora
Elke Mader
Rund um die Palme. Rituelle Prozesse, indigene Politik und Medien in Ecuador
Birgit Bräuchler
Praxeologische Überlegungen zur Mediatisierungsdebatte. Eine ethnologische Perspektive
Philipp Budka
Von der Cyberanthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie. Über die Rolle der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie im Verstehen soziotechnischer Lebenswelten
Manfred Kremser
»Shango is a Powerful Fellow!«. Repräsentation spiritueller Macht in afrokaribischen Kulturen
Adelheid Pichler
Artefakte und Erinnerung. Ein Beitrag zur Interpretation materieller Kultur in den afrokubanischen Religionen
Werner Zips
»She’s Royal« – »Queenmothers« in Ghana. Ein afrikanisches Rollenmodell für Jamaika
Manfred Kremser / Franz Graf / Gertraud Seiser
»Ein Leben scannen«. Fragmentarische Retrospektive von und auf Manfred Kremser

Lecture: Ritual & Religion in Social and Cultural Anthropology

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Together with Martin Luger, I am organizing a lecture on ritual and religion in social and cultural anthropology at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna (in German). Find more information online.

Die Lehrveranstaltung gibt einen Überblick über zentrale Konzepte der Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie zu rituellen und religiösen Praktiken, Prozessen und Phänomenbereichen. Ausgehend von klassischen Werken unterschiedlicher Denktraditionen werden den Studierenden Einblicke in die Entstehung rezenter Sichtweisen und Debatten vermittelt. Mit Hilfe ethnographischer Fallbeispiele erlangen sie Kompetenzen im Erfassen unterschiedlicher Wechselwirkungen der zentralen Themenbereiche.

Die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie befasst sich mit unterschiedlichen Glaubensvorstellungen, spirituellen Praktiken und Ritualen sowie deren soziokultureller und alltäglicher Einbettung. Religion und Ritual sind eng mit anderen Bereichen des menschlichen Lebens verflochten, etwa mit sozialen Beziehungen, Wertvorstellungen, Moral, Ethik, Vorstellungen von Gesundheit und Krankheit, politischen Organisationsformen, Ökonomie und Ökologie.
Religionen zeichnen sich beispielsweise durch eine ausgeprägte performative Ritual-Praxis aus. Das rituelle Geschehen als Feld des sozialen Dramas, der Initiation und Transformation sowie dessen Mittlerfunktionen zwischen Ordnung und Chaos, Communitas und Rebellion werden thematisiert. Ebenso wird anhand des Begriffs der Performativität der Frage nachgegangen, ob der Körper durch das Ritual geht, oder das Ritual durch den Körper.
Rituale stehen zudem in Zusammenhang mit bestimmten Wertvorstellungen und Normen sowie mit spezifischen Menschenbildern. Dabei haben Vorstellungen und Praktiken Auswirkungen auf die Subjektivität und Personalität von Praktizierenden. Dies hat sowohl ethnographische Erkundungen über jene Dinge gefördert, die im Leben von Menschen am wichtigsten scheinen, als auch Sensibilitäten dafür geschaffen, wie sich diese mit breiteren Prozessen und Kontexten überschneiden. Rezente Unsicherheiten betreffen beispielsweise die ökologische Zerstörung und ihre Ursachen, und destabilisieren Konzepte, Um- und Lebenswelten. Gleichzeitig entstehen neue religiöse Bewegungen mit dem Versprechen von ökologischem sowie sozialem Gleichgewicht (Stichwort: green religions, spiritual ecology).

Die Vorlesung spannt einen Bogen von evolutionistischen Ansätzen, über struktural-funktionale, bis hin zu post-strukturalen Ansätzen und den Ontologie-Debatten des 21.Jh. Die Inhalte werden anhand zentraler Texte und ethnographischer Fallbeispiele erläutert und ermöglichen die Diskussion eines breiten Spektrums kultur- und sozialanthropologischer Forschungszugänge. Die Lernplattform der Universität Wien wird genutzt, um Lernmaterialien zur Verfügung zu stellen sowie den inhaltlichen Austausch und die Kommunikation zwischen den Studierenden zu fördern. Zusätzlich sieht die Lehrveranstaltung eine aktive Beteiligung der Studierenden mittels Diskussionsrunden vor.

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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Seminar: Indigenous Media 2016

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Again, I have the pleasure to teach the Seminar “Indigenous Media” for the MA Program in Visual and Media Anthropology at the Free University Berlin. Find below a brief description of the course.

In the seminar “Indigenous Media” students get an introduction to indigenous media technologies. In ten seminar units selected questions, issues, and problems are discussed: How do indigenous people produce, distribute, and utilize audiovisual media? How has ethnographic and anthropological film making changed? What role do politics, power, globalization, and (post-)colonialism play in the production and use of indigenous media? How do indigenous people utilize media to construct and negotiate their individual and collective identities? How are indigenous cultures and languages represented through media? And how do indigenous people appropriate and (co-)develop digital technologies in times of increasing globalization?

We start with the contextualization of indigenous media within the framework of an anthropology of media. In the second unit students are introduced to selected debates about the meaning and relevance of (mass) media for indigenous people and their culture. We then discuss ethnographic film making and visual anthropology in the context of indigenous people’s changing role from “objects” for ethnographic films to partners in media projects. The fourth unit deals with the phenomena of (post-)colonialism and decolonization and their implications for indigenous media. This discussion leads us to the self-controlled production of indigenous media and its relevance for issues such as (self-)representation, appropriation, control, and empowerment. Globalization, modernity, and related questions of collective indigenous identity construction – “indigeneity” – are the topics of the next unit. The following three sessions are closely connected and discuss aspects of identity, community, networking, ownership, activism, empowerment, aesthetics, poetics, and popular culture in relation to indigenous media. In the final unit students learn about the importance of digital technologies and infrastructures for indigenous people, their activist projects, and networking initiatives.

Through several case studies students are introduced to the similarities and differences of indigenous media projects throughout the world. These case studies take us to different regions, countries, and continents: from Nunavut, Canada, and the US to the Caribbean, Guatemala, Mexico, and Brazil, to Nigeria, Myanmar, Australia and Finland. The seminar’s assignments include the reading of selected articles, the watching of films and videos, and the discussion of these in small essays. The online conference tool Adobe Connect is used to present and discuss aspects of texts, films, and essays.

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.

Seminar: Media & visual technologies as material culture – students’ projects

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The following joint student projects are conducted in the seminar “Media and visual technologies as material culture” at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna:

  • Team A: Non-Use of Smartphones
    -> Which impact does the non-use of smartphones have for the private and working life? Why do people decide against using smartphones?
  • Team B: Meaning of Cellphones for Refugees
    -> What is the meaning of cellphones for refugees in Austria?
  • Team C: Crowd-sourcing & Labor
    -> How are subjective meanings of “team work” shaped by the inter-dependencies between freelancers and the website Capacitor?
  • Team D: Sharing of Visual Media, Art & Cultural Identity
    -> In what aspects have the Japanese art forms of dance and painting changed through the sharing of visual media/material?
  • Team E: Access to Internet & Power Relations within the Family Home
    -> What are the effects of internet usage on children and young adults in respect to power relations in the family home?
  • Team F: Conversion/Discussion about Digital Content
    -> What is the difference between usage of commentary sections of Serbian and German online newspapers?
  • Team G: Self-Identification through Visual Communication & Social Media
    -> How do people identify/define themselves through visual communication via social media (websites (blogs), video blogs and Instagram)?
  • Team H: Ayahuasceros – Making of Ritual Community on Facebook
    -> What is the relevance of Facebook in the community building process of Austrian Ayahuasca ceremonies?
  • Team I: Bicycle Movement & Digital Media in Vienna
    -> How are digital media technologies utilized in relation to the social network BikeKitchen?

Review: Europäisch-ethnologisches Forschen. Neue Methoden und Konzepte.

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Budka, P. 2014. Review of Hess, S., Moser, J. & M. Schwertl (eds.). Europäisch-ethnologisches Forschen. Neue Methoden und Konzepte. Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 2013; 332 pp. Anthropos, 109.2014/2: 694-696.

Mit dem Sammelband „Europäisch-ethnologisches Forschen. Neue Methoden und Konzepte.“ ist es den HerausgeberInnen und AutorInnen gelungen eine wichtige, und wie ich finde längst überfällige, Sammlung rezenter Methoden und theoretischer Konzepte nicht nur für die Europäische Ethnologie/Volkskunde zusammenzustellen. Auch wenn der Titel ein Naheverhältnis des Bandes und seiner Inhalte zur Europäischen Ethnologie nahelegt, ist dieses Werk durchaus auch VertreterInnen anderer kultur- und sozialwissenschaftlichen Disziplinen – von Kultur- und/oder Sozialanthropologie bis Soziologie – empfohlen. Insgesamt 17 AutorInnen geben in 12 Beiträgen einen einführenden Überblick zu methodischen und methodologischen Überlegungen sowie Konzepten, die in den letzten Jahren im einschlägigen wissenschaftlichen Fachdiskurs massiv an Bedeutung gewonnen haben: von Ethnographie und Feldtheorien über Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie bis hin zur Analyse visueller und materieller Kultur. Im Folgenden will ich mich einer subjektiven Auswahl an Buchbeiträgen widmen, um so zu versuchen die Bandbreite dieses Werkes und seiner Inhalte darzulegen.

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Concept map: Communicative ecologies

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This map visualizes the concept of “communicative ecologies” as introduced by Tacchi, J., Slater, D., Hearn, G. 2003. Ethnographic Action Research: A User’s Handbook. New Delhi: UNESCO, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/4399/. It was done by using the free CMap Tools (click to enlarge).

concept map

Ethnographie als theoretischer & epistemologischer Ansatz

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Ideen und Anmerkungen zur Ethnographie als theoretischer und epistemologischer Forschungsansatz, die im Rahmen eines Jour Fixe der Gruppe Internetforschung am 09.01.2012 diskutiert wurden. Dabei wurde vor allem der Frage nachgegangen wie Ethnographie in der Internetforschung Verwendung finden kann.

Ethnographie ist eine Theorie des Beschreibens (Nader)
→ Kontext
→ Holismus → Imagination von Gesamt- oder Ganzheit

Ethnographie ist keine Methode (Ingold)
→ Ethnographie = beschreibende Integration (durch Kontextualisierung)
→ Ethnographie = Praxis verbaler Beschreibung

Praktische Aspekte / Probleme einer Ethnographie
→ Prozess der teilnehmenden Beobachtung
→ Inklusion der Forscherin / „Wir & die Anderen“
→ Wandel in Zeit & Raum
→ Hierarchien von Kontexten

Ethnographie & Interdisziplinarität (Strathern)
→ Interaktion von Disziplinen
→ Kontextspezifika entscheiden über Ethnographie → Schaffung von Kontext
→ Multi- → Inter- → Transdisziplinarität → von „information-sharing“ zu „knowledge-creation“

Literatur:
Ingold, T. 2008. Anthropology is not ethnography. In: Proceedings of the British Academy 154: 69-92. Online: http://www.proc.britac.ac.uk/cgi-bin/somsid.cgi?page=154p069&session=825683A&type=header

Nader, L. 2011. Ethnography as theory. In: HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 1(1): 211-219. Online: http://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/34

Strathern, M. 2005. Experiments in interdisciplinarity. In: Social Anthropology 13(1): 75-90.

References and resources on online ethnography

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Literature on online ethnography collected through the EASA Media Anthropology Network Mailing List
to contribute to this collection go to the network’s project wiki: http://www.media-anthropology.net/index.php/projects

Bell, David, and Barbara M. Kennedy 2000 The Cybercultures Reader. London : New York: Routledge.

Boellstorff, Tom: Coming of Age in Second Life, 2008. The volume, which is an ethnography by itself, has a full chapter on methods in online research.

Buchanan, Elizabeth A. 2004 Readings in Virtual Research Ethics : Issues and Controversies. Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub.

Hine, C. (2008). Virtual Ethnography: Modes, Varieties, Affordances. In Fielding, Lee, Blank (eds) THE SAGE HANDBOOK OF ONLINE RESEARCH METHODS.

Hine, C. 2005 Internet Research and the Sociology of Cyber-Social-Scientific Knowledge. Information Society 21(4):239-248.

Hine, Christine 2005 Virtual Methods : Issues in Social Research on the Internet. Oxford, UK ; New York: Berg.

Hine, Christine 2000 Virtual Ethnography. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Littleton, K., and D. Whitelock 2004 Guiding the Creation of Knowledge and Understanding in a Virtual Learning Environment. Cyberpsychology & Behavior 7(2):173-181.

Markham, Anette: Internet Research. In Silverman, D. (Ed.). Qualitative Research: Theory, Method, and Practices, 3rd Edition. London: Sage.
Draft: http://www.markham.internetinquiry.org/writing/silverman2011draft.pdf

Markham, Anette: The politics, ethics, and methods of representation in online ethnography. In Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (Eds.). Handbook of Qualitative Research, 3rd Edition (pp. 793-820). Thousand Oaks CA: Sage
Draft here: http://markham.internetinquiry.org/writing/denzingalleyproofs.pdf

Marshall, Jon (2010): Ambiguity, Oscillation and Disorder: Online Ethnography and the Making of Culture
http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/ojs/index.php/mcs/article/view/1598/1859

Nardi, Bonnie: Night Elf Priest, prolog and first two chapters. Bonus: They can read it online for free: http://www.digitalculture.org/books/my-life-as-a-night-elf-priest

Pauwels, L. 2005 Websites as Visual and Multimodal Cultural Expressions: Opportunities and Issues of Online Hybrid Media Research. Media Culture & Society 27(4):604-613.

Preece, J., and D. Maloney-Krichmar 2005 Online Communities: Design, Theory, and Practice. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 10(4).

Schaap, Frank 2002 The Words that Took Us there : Ethnography in a Virtual Reality. Amsterdam: Aksant Academic Publishers.

Silver, D. 2004 Internet/cyberculture/digital culture/new media/fill-in-the-Blank Studies. New Media & Society 6(1):55-64.

New Book: Theorising Media and Practice (Bräuchler & Postill 2010)

New Book: Theorising Media and Practice (Bräuchler & Postill 2010) published on No Comments on New Book: Theorising Media and Practice (Bräuchler & Postill 2010)

Bräuchler, B. and J. Postill (eds) 2010. Theorising Media and Practice. Oxford and New York: Berghahn.

From John Postill’s blog:

This book is very much a product of the numerous conversations we’ve had down the years on the EASA Media Anthropology Network on practice approaches to media. We’re really grateful to all chapter contributors and to all of network members who have helped us think through some of the key questions.

Synopsis

Although practice theory has been a mainstay of social theory for nearly three decades, so far it has had very limited impact on media studies. This book draws on the work of practice theorists such as Wittgenstein, Foucault, Bourdieu, Barth and Schatzki and rethinks the study of media from the perspective of practice theory. Drawing on ethnographic case studies from places such as Zambia, India, Hong Kong, the United States, Britain, Norway and Denmark, the contributors address a number of important themes: media as practice; the interlinkage between media, culture and practice; the contextual study of media practices; and new practices of digital production. Collectively, these chapters make a strong case for the importance of theorising the relationship between media and practice and thereby adding practice theory as a new strand to the anthropology of media.

More information: http://berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=BrauchlerTheorising

Video: About “doing anthropology”

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MIT anthropologists in this short video talk about doing anthropology, about their personal experiences with working as anthropologists and ethnographers.

From: http://techtv.mit.edu/videos/315-doing-anthropology

Thoughts on Fieldwork From Three Research Sites
Cultural Anthropology is a social science that explores how people understand – and act in – the world. But what, exactly, is it that Cultural Anthropologists do? How do they approach their research? In this short film, three members of MIT’s Anthropology Department, Stefan Helmreich, Erica James, and Heather Paxson, talk about their current work and the process of doing fieldwork.”