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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.

Blog Post Series: Von der Cyberanthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie – Teil 2

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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

Anthropologische Perspektiven auf Technik und Technologie 1/2

Seit Jahrzehnten untersuchen Kultur- und SozialanthropologInnen neue und “moderne” Techniken und Technologien und wie diese vor allem in “nichtwestlichen” Gesellschaften verwendet und angeeignet werden (z.B. Godelier 1971; Pfaffenberger 1992; Sharp 1952). Doch, wie etwa Arturo Escobar (1994) betont, gestaltet es sich oft schwierig, diese Forschungsansätze und -befunde auf hoch komplexe, technische Umgebungen in “modernen” Gesellschaften zu übertragen. Aus anthropologischer Perspektive bedeutet diese Transferschwierigkeit aber weder eine Abwertung von spezifischen Techniken oder Technologien und damit verbundenen gesellschaftlichen und kulturellen Systemen noch deren Hierarchisierung, etwa in einem evolutionistischen Sinn (z. B. Ingold 2000). All diese soziotechnischen Phänomene sind hoch komplex und heterogen.

Um diese Phänomene und damit zusammenhängende soziale Praktiken und kulturelle Prozesse an den Schnittstellen von Gesellschaft, Wissenschaft und Technik zu analysieren und zu verstehen, ist es notwendig, passende theoretische Zugänge und Konzepte zu generieren sowie empirische Befunde zu sammeln (z. B. Fischer 2007; Pfaffenberger 1992). Wie Robert Adams (1996: xiii) festhält, erlaubt gerade die Anthropologie als wissenschaftliche Disziplin eine spezifische, offene Sichtweise auf Technik und Technologie, die wesentliche Vorzüge hat. Erstens vermeidet sie eine Reduktion auf simple Regularitäten und messbare Quantitäten im Verstehen komplexer soziotechnischer Interaktionen. Weiters werden integrative und kontextbezogene Zugänge betont, um soziotechnischen Wandel und soziotechnische Kontinuität zu untersuchen. Und drittens erlaubt der Fokus auf Diversität scheinbar allgemein akzeptierte Kategorisierungen und Beschreibungen von soziokulturellen Phänomenen kritisch zu hinterfragen.

So setzt beispielsweise Bryan Pfaffenberger (1988b: 244) den beiden Extrempositionen des “technologischen Somnambulismus”, die keinen kausalen Zusammenhang zwischen Technologie, Gesellschaft und Kultur erkennen will, und des “technologischen Determinismus”, die Technologie als die alles bestimmende gesellschaftliche Antriebskraft versteht, das Konzept der “humanisierten Natur” entgegen, das Technologie als soziokulturelles Konstrukt versteht, das der Mensch aus seiner ihn umgebenden Natur gestaltet. Dieses Technologieverständnis versucht deterministische Zugänge ebenso zu vermeiden wie die damit verbundene Fetischisierung von Technologie (Budka 2013). Technologie als “humanisierte Natur” ist laut Pfaffenberger (1988b) ein fundamental soziales – oder angelehnt an Marcel Mauss (1989) ein “totales” – Phänomen, das das Materielle, das Soziale und das Symbolische in einem assoziativen Netz kombiniert.

Die Überzeugung, dass technische und gesellschaftliche Phänomene nicht getrennt voneinander zu untersuchen und zu verstehen sind, ist also grundlegend für die Anthropologie wie auch für die Wissenschafts- und Technikforschung sowie die Techniksoziologie (z. B. Bijker/Law 1992; Degele 2002). Aufgrund der Komplexität der Thematik ist es auch schwierig, eine allgemein gültige Definition von Technik bzw. Technologie zu finden. So meint etwa François Sigaut (1997: 422), dass sich letztlich viele Bemühungen, Technologie zu definieren, als widersprüchlich und damit als nutzlos herausstellen. Und Tim Ingold (2000: 296f.) konstatiert grundlegende Unterschiede in den Versuchen, Technologie zu definieren, die vorrangig davon abhängig sind, wie umfassend diese Definitionen angelegt werden und wie das Verhältnis zwischen Technologie und Wissenschaft interpretiert wird.

Blog Post Series: Von der Cyberanthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie – Teil 1

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In dieser Serie von Blogeinträgen werde ich in den kommenden Wochen 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”, verdeutlichen. 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

Digitale Technik und Technologien haben das Menschsein verändert, und Menschen gestalten und verändern laufend Technik und Technologien. Diese Serie von Blogeinträgen zeigt, wie die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, als Wissenschaft vom sozialen und kulturellen Menschen, den wissenschaftstheoretischen Zugang sowie die Methodenwahl mitgestaltet, um diese komplexe Beziehung zu erfassen, zu beschreiben und letztlich zu verstehen. Dabei wird auch sie von Entwicklungs- und Veränderungsprozessen geprägt, die als soziotechnisch – im Sinne der engen Verknüpfung zwischen dem Sozialen und dem Technischen, zwischen Gesellschaft, Technik und Technologie – bezeichnet werden können.

So ist die Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie längst nicht mehr nur die Wissenschaft von “einfachen außereuropäischen Kulturen”.1 Seit Jahrzehnten forschen ihre VertreterInnen, zumeist vergleichend, zu komplexen Phänomenen, Prozessen und Veränderungen in unterschiedlichsten menschlichen Gesellschaften. Da war es nur eine Frage der Zeit, bis die ersten AnthropologInnen begannen, sich mit technischen Entwicklungen und wissenschaftlichen Praktiken in Europa und den USA auseinander zu setzen (z. B. Fischer 1999, 2007; Pfaffenberger 1988b, 1992).

So kamen schrittweise digitale Informations-, Kommunikations- und Medientechnologien und mit diesen verbundene Prozesse und Praktiken in den Fokus anthropologischer Forschung: von der allgemeinen kulturellen und gesellschaftlichen Bedeutung digitaler Technologieentwicklung und deren Relevanz für das Menschsein und die Disziplin der Anthropologie (z. B. Dourish/Bell 2011; Escobar 1994; Hakken 1999; Houtman/Zeitlyn 1996; Miller 2018; Miller/Horst 2012; Uimonen 2015; Whitehead/Wesch 2012a) bis hin zur Untersuchung von spezifischen Zusammenhängen zwischen digitalen Technologien und soziokulturellen Phänomenen, wie Konflikt (Bräuchler 2005) und Ethnizität (Zurawski 2000) im Internet, Veränderungen der Arbeitswelt (Kjaerulff 2010) und menschlicher Kommunikationsweisen (Schröder/Voell 2002) oder die kulturelle Bedeutung Freier Software (Kelty 2008).

Continue reading Blog Post Series: Von der Cyberanthropologie zur Digitalen Anthropologie – Teil 1

Publications: E-learning & blended learning in anthropology & the social sciences

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Here a collection of publications that discuss the development and utilization of e-learning and blended learning tools and models for sociocultural anthropology and the social sciences. These publications are the result of different projects conducted at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology as well as the Dean’s Office of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Vienna.

Budka, P., Schallert, C., & Mader, E. (2011). Interactive technology enhanced learning for social science students. In M. E. Auer & M. Huba (Eds.), Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL2011) (pp. 274-278), CD-ROM. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE. Abstract & Text.

Budka, P., & Schallert, C. (2009). Transforming learning infrastructures in the social sciences through flexible and interactive technology-enhanced learning. Learning Inquiry, 3(3), 131-142. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11519-009-0045-9

Budka, P., Mader, E., Anderl, E., & Stockinger, J. (2008). Strategies for networked learning in social science education. In J. Luca & E. R. Weippl (Eds.), Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2008: World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications (pp. 618-622). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Continue reading Publications: E-learning & blended learning in anthropology & the social sciences

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

Seminar: Digital & Visual Technologies as Material Culture

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In the summer term 2019, I am giving a seminar on digital and visual technologies as material culture at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology (MA & CREOLE study programme) of the University of Vienna. Find more information online.

This course gives an overview about material culture as a conceptual and practical approach to understand digital and visual technologies. In doing so, it focuses on digital technologies, their visual aspects and how they are integrated and utilized in everyday life.

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 and visual 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 conceptualisation of digital and visual 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 case studies, students get a comparative overview about material culture in the context of digital and visual technologies. Students conduct small empirical research projects within teams.

Review: Handbuch der Medienethnographie

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Budka, P. (2017). [Review of the book Handbuch der Medienethnographie, by C. Bender & M. Zillinger]. Paideuma. Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde, 63, 303-307.

Der Sammelband „Handbuch der Medienethnographie“ bietet einen Einblick in ein aufstrebendes und im deutschen Sprachraum noch zu wenig beachtetes Forschungsfeld. Ethnographie wird in diesem Buch vor allem als Methode in der qualitativen Medienforschung verstanden und die Autorinnen und Autoren, allesamt erfahren in der ethnographischen Feldforschung, wurden von der Herausgeberin Cora Bender und dem Herausgeber Martin Zillinger aufgefordert, individuell zu reflektieren, „wie sie selbst im Feld vorgegangen sind, um Medien und Medienpraktiken zu erforschen“ (xi). Diese Reflexion über die eigene Forschungspraxis ist laut Bender und Zillinger charakteristisch für die Ethnologie als „ethnographische Königsdisziplin“ (xii). Mittels dichter Beschreibungen aus unterschiedlichen ethnographischen Forschungsfeldern will der Band mit seinen Beiträgen auch die Verbindung zwischen Empirie und Theorie in der Ethnologie in den Blick nehmen. Schwerpunkte bleiben dabei die subjektiven Erfahrungen der Feldforscherinnen und Feldforscher als Fremde, die unter spezifischen Bedingungen in bestimmten Lokalitäten in Austausch mit Menschen treten, um die entsprechenden Interaktionsprozesse schließlich zu interpretieren.
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Free video analysis tools

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Free video (& audio) analysis and transcription tools, partly collected via the VISCOM list serv.

CfP: Anthropologies of media and mobility

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Anthropologies of Media and Mobility: Theorizing movement and circulations across entangled fields

An International Workshop organized by the Anthropology and Mobility Network and the Media Anthropology Network (EASA) in collaboration with Locating Media (University Siegen) and a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School (University of Cologne)

University of Cologne, Germany
14-16 September 2017

This international workshop seeks to theorize the relationship between media and mobility. While mobility has been defined as movement ascribed with meaning, one might in similar fashion define media as meaning ascribed with movement. Interrogating the linkages between media and mobility can enable more thorough understandings of how various power structures produce, transform and reproduce social, material and discursive orders. People, devices, and data are increasingly on the move – movements that may transgress borders and boundaries, but which are also integral to the constitution and regulation of the barriers themselves. The movement of people triggers new imaginaries of territories and social spaces, which circulate through media, questioning and forging new ties between people, signs and things. More broadly, the mobilisation of tangible and intangible things demands a reconceptualization of what a ‘thing’ is, what constitutes the human, and what defines human collectivity. In such circumstances, reimagining circulations through the lens of media and mobility becomes an important step towards understanding current socio-cultural and political changes. While this lens has been applied broadly within anthropological research, its theoretical consequences merit further investigation and discussion. 

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Internet Archive builds archive copy in Canada

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From http://blog.archive.org/2016/11/29/help-us-keep-the-archive-free-accessible-and-private/ by B. Kahle:

… On November 9th in America, we woke up to a new administration promising radical change. It was a firm reminder that institutions like ours, built for the long-term, need to design for change.

For us, it means keeping our cultural materials safe, private and perpetually accessible. It means preparing for a Web that may face greater restrictions.

It means serving patrons in a world in which government surveillance is not going away; indeed it looks like it will increase.

Throughout history, libraries have fought against terrible violations of privacy—where people have been rounded up simply for what they read.  At the Internet Archive, we are fighting to protect our readers’ privacy in the digital world. …

Internet Archive Canada and National Security Letter in the news: roundup

Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more: https://archive.org/

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.

Paper: Interactive technology enhanced learning for social science students

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Budka, P., Schallert, C., Mader, E. 2011. Interactive technology enhanced learning for social science students. In M. E. Auer & M. Huba (Eds.), Proceedings 14th International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL2011) (pp. 274-278), CD-ROM. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE.

Abstract

This paper introduces the case of an interactive technology enhanced learning model, its contexts and infrastructure at a public university in the Bologna era. From a socio-technological perspective, it takes a look at the conditions and challenges under which this flexible learning model for the social sciences has been developed. Furthermore, selected evaluation results, including experiences and expectations of social science students, are discussed. The paper concludes that it is possible, with the appropriate didactical model, to create and facilitate interactive student-centered learning situations, even in “mass lectures”.

Text (PDF)

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?

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

Seminar: Media & visual technologies as material culture – students’ research ideas published on No Comments on Seminar: Media & visual technologies as material culture – students’ research ideas

Clustering of individual ideas to create joint research projects in the seminar “Media and Visual Technologies as Material Culture” at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna.

clustering_ideas