Philipp Budka was and still is involved in a variety of projects both in and outside of university. These projects cover a range of topics:
- the role of transport and information infrastructures in Arctic communities;
- digital technology appropriation and internet infrastructure development in remote indigenous communities;
- ethnographic and anthropological engagements with "the digital";
- the relationship and co-constitutiveness of media and conflict;
- the entanglement of mediation, mediatization, ritualization and performativity;
- technology-enhanced learning and teaching in the social sciences.
Philipp is currently a research associate (postdoc) in the ERC Advanced Grant project INFRANORTH at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna and leader of the North American Arctic study region.
The "new Arctic" is attracting global attention for a variety of reasons, including geopolitics, militarization, resource extraction, wilderness tourism, and calls for environmental protection in the face of rapid climate change. Many of these activities necessitate the construction or upgrading of transport infrastructures in this relatively remote, inaccessible and scarcely-populated part of the world. While these large-scale infrastructures are mostly sponsored by outside interests, they can have profound impacts on local residents.
INFRANORTH focuses on how residents of the Arctic engage with these infrastructures, and to examine the intended and unintended consequences these projects have on their lives. The challenge is to understand whether existing and planned transport infrastructures will support permanent human habitation and sustainable communities in the Arctic, or whether they will strengthen a trend of substituting permanent residents with "temporaries" like shift workers, tourists and military personnel. In addressing this challenge, INFRANORTH adopts a relational affordance perspective, which documents the material and non-material entanglements of local residents and transport infrastructures in three distinct arctic regions (Russian Arctic, North American Arctic, European Arctic).
INFRANORTH's approach combines ethnographic fieldwork with mapping exercises and archival research. The project team of anthropologists and geographers will use quantitative population data to upscale to the regional level, and regional patterns will be contrasted and compared to reach conclusions on the panarctic level. The overarching research question - What is the role of transport infrastructures in sustaining arctic communities? - is of urgent relevance on both theoretical and practical levels, and by addressing it INFRANORTH will contribute locally informed results to critical conversations about arctic futures.
Together with Suzana Jovicic and Monika Palmberger, Philipp created the Digital Ethnography Initiative (DEI) at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna.
DEI is the first step towards greater visibility of ethnographic work on "the digital" at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. DEI is an attempt to establish a space, where longstanding anthropological interest in ethnography meets interdisciplinary dialogue. By providing an online open-access platform for sharing resources, making local expertise and research projects visible, and by organizing regular events, the initiative aims to provide orientation in a messy world of boundaries-crossing methods and methodologies for researchers and students alike.
Completed Projects (Selection)
In cooperation with Birgit Bräuchler, Philipp edited Theorising Media and Conflict published by Berghahn Books in 2020. This is the second "Theorising media and ..." book in Berghahn's Anthropology of Media series. The aim of the series is to place media anthropology at the forefront of theoretical advances in both anthropology and media and communication studies.
Theorising Media and Conflict brings together anthropologists as well as media and communication scholars to collectively address the elusive and complex relationship between media and conflict. Through epistemological and methodological reflections and the analyses of various case studies from around the globe, this volume provides evidence for the co-constitutiveness of media and conflict and contributes to their consolidation as a distinct area of scholarship.
The volume is a result of the workshop "Theorising Media and Conflict" organized by John Postill and Philipp for the Media Anthropology Network of the European Association of Social and Cultural Anthropologists (EASA) at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna (23-24 Oct 2015).
The workshop was generously supported by EASA, the Austrian Research Association (ÖFG) and the University of Vienna's Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology.
With Martin Luger and Franz Graf, Philipp edited the volume Ritualisierung - Mediatisierung - Performance (V&R Unipress/Vienna University Press). 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.
Philipp's dissertation project at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna investigated the creation, development, and utilization of broadband internet infrastructures, technologies, and services by indigenous people and communities in Northwestern Ontario, Canada.
(Budka, P. (2017). Indigenizing the Internet: Socio-technical change, technology appropriation and digital practices in remote First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario, Canada. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Vienna.)
Research focused on
(a) the geographical, historical, and sociocultural contexts,
(b) the socio-technical infrastructures and relationships, and
(c) the digital practices and activities related to the local everyday appropriation of internet technologies. Grounded in ethnographic fieldwork and framed by media and digital anthropology, the project discussed the case of the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Kuhkenah Network (KO-KNET) and its most mundane internet service MyKnet.org.
KO-KNET is a First Nations owned and controlled internet organization and network which was established by a regional tribal council. Its main objective has been to connect the remote indigenous communities in Northwestern Ontario to the internet and with each other. Moreover, the network provides indigenous people with digital services, such as online education and e-health, with the aim to improve living conditions in the remote communities. MyKnet.org is a youth-based homepage system that has been built and developed around communities' need to maintain social ties and networks across great distance.
The project demonstrated how digital infrastructures contributed to the connecting and networking of First Nations people and communities, and how this also enabled and strengthened social relationships between local communities and non-indigenous institutions. The analysis of digital practices that are closely related to the online social environment MyKnet.org emphasized the cultural and historical uniqueness of processes of technology appropriation in a remote and isolated area. As a community-based and community-focused service exclusively for First Nations people, MyKnet.org contributed to inter- and intra-community communication and interaction. Since the communities had no adequate telecommunications infrastructure until the middle of the 1990s, these developments can also be understood as processes of socio-technical change. By consistently including local populations in processes of infrastructure and technology development, KO-KNET also managed to localize the control over the construction, distribution, and use of digital infrastructures, technologies, and services. This, on the other hand, contributed to the socio-technical empowerment of First Nation communities in Northwestern Ontario. Thus, indigenous people and communities are able to participate in a self-determined manner to regional, national, and even global digital connectivity processes.
Ethnographic research for this project was generously supported by grants from the University of Vienna (Research Scholarship and Academic Research Abroad), the German Foundation for Canadian Studies and the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council / KO-KNET.
Results of this project are discussed in different publications.
eSOWI-STEP (Joint Introduction Phase for Students in the Social Sciences), conducted at the eLearning Centre of the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Vienna developed, implemented and evaluated a technology enhanced learning environment as well as best practice learning models for student beginners in the social sciences (funded by the University of Vienna).
The project Strategien für vernetztes Lernen (Strategies for Networked Learning) was conducted at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna and resulted in
a) the production of learning material for anthropology students;
b) the creation of teaching concepts and models developed with the support of different online learning systems and digital tools;
c) the development of blended learning scenarios and strategies for students;
d) the assessment and evaluation of e-learning tools and scenarios (funded by the University of Vienna).
OEKU-ONLINE (Interdisciplinary Content Pool for Economy, Culture and Environment) produced digital learning and teaching material on the interconnections between economy, ecology and culture. It was created at the Austrian Latin America Institute with a grant of the OeNB Anniversary Fund.
Latin American Studies Online (LASON) established an interdisciplinary online learning system that provides learning and teaching content about Latin America. The learning system contributes to a virtual learning space, counterbalancing the lack of a Department of Latin American Studies at Austrian universities (funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research).
For more information about the projects, please contact Philipp Budka.