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 (Siegen) and a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School (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.
With a focus on a comparative approach, this workshop invites papers that rethink the theoretical underpinnings of media and mobility studies in anthropology. In particular, we hope to encourage papers based on multidisciplinary and mixed-methods research between social anthropology and other disciplines, including sociology, geography, communication studies, and the digital humanities. We aim to select presentation proposals, across a wide variety of formats, from early and mid-career scholars. Possible topics represented could include (but are hardly limited to):
- Theoretical discussions that connect (or disconnect) media and mobility;
- Empirical case studies that contribute to the conceptualisation of media and mobility;
- Ethnographic research that brings into relief the politics of media and mobility;
- Comparative studies that challenge Anglophone and Eurocentric theorizations of media and mobility;
- Practice-based demonstrations of experimental approaches to thinking through media and mobility;
- Contributions on media and mobility that engage with broader theoretical debates in social and political theory.
In addition to paper presentations with discussion, we would like to encourage audio/visual, sensory and experimental formats that speak to the conference theme. Please specify the technical and spatial needs for your presentation in your proposal.
The workshop will take place over two days at the University of Cologne, which is extremely accessible by both air and train transport. Some bursaries will be made available thanks to contributions from both the University of Siegen’s Locating Media graduate school and EASA.
Abstracts for papers (max. 300 words), listing your institutional affiliation and position, should be sent by email a Word .doc attachment by Monday 3 April, 2017 to mediamobilityworkshop[at]gmail.com. If you would like to be considered for a travel bursary, please add a few sentences below your abstract regarding why you require funding consideration.
Workshop “Theorising Media and Conflict”
Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna
23-24 October 2015
Organizers: John Postill (RMIT University, Melbourne), Philipp Budka, Elke Mader (University of Vienna)
The subfield of media anthropology is currently thriving. The period between 2002 and 2005 alone saw the publication of no less than four overviews of this emerging subfield (Askew & Wilk 2002; Ginsburg et al. 2002; Peterson 2003; Rothenbuhler & Coman 2005) as well as the founding of the Media Anthropology Network, European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), which by June 2015 boasted over 1,400 participants and had held over 50 e-seminars and a number of face-to-face events. Anthropologists have now undertaken media research in many regions of the world, from the Arctic and the Amazon to Western Europe and New Guinea, and worked on media ranging from writing, film and television to software, social media and mobile phones. Media anthropologists are also at the forefront of recent theoretical advances in media and communication studies in areas such as cultural activism (Ginsburg 2008), transnational media (Mankekar 2008), mobile telephony (Horst & Miller 2006), virtual materiality (Boellstorff 2008), free software (Kelty 2008), techno-politics (Coleman 2014), social media (Miller 2011) and media practice theory (Bräuchler & Postill 2012).
Although a growing number of anthropologists have begun to study media in conflict and post-conflict contexts, including topics such as cyberwar, internet activism, video-making, and radio dramas (e.g. Arno 2009, Bräuchler 2009, 2013, Flores 2007, Postill 2011, 2014a, 2014b, Pype 2011, 2012, Skuse 2011, Skuse & Gillespie 2011, Skuse et al 2011), so far they have done so in relative isolation from one another. The result is a fragmentation of the field and a dissipation of efforts. The aim of this workshop is to remedy this situation by bringing together leading media anthropologists and other media and communication scholars working to collectively address the elusive relationship between media and conflict.
In addition to its networking function, the workshop will lead to an edited volume provisionally titled Theorising Media and Conflict. This will be the third in the EASA Media Anthropology Network's series of theoretical volumes published by Berghahn. The first volume came out in 2010 as Theorising Media and Practice (Bräuchler & Postill, eds), and the second volume, Theorising Media and Change (Postill, Ardevol & Tenhunen, eds) is forthcoming. The aim of the series is to place media anthropology at the forefront of theoretical advances in both anthropology and media and communication studies.
The workshop is generously supported by EASA, the Austrian Research Association (ÖFG) and the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Vienna.
Report from a workshop and e-seminar (Nov/Dec 2013)
On 25-26 November the EASA Media Anthropology Network held a book workshop at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3), Open University of Catalonia (UOC), in Barcelona. This international meeting brought together all three editors as well as four contributors to the forthcoming volume Theorising Media and Change (J. Postill, E. Ardevol and S. Tenhunen, eds.). Participants came from Mexico, Spain, Australia, Finland and the UK (the latter via skype).
The event was followed by a lively e-seminar on this same theme via the Network's mailing list (with over 1,450 subscribers at present) from 5 to 19 December. Together, the two events have raised intriguing questions about methodology, temporality, communication, causality and change that will contribute greatly to the development of the book's core ideas, as well as placing the anthropology of media right at heart of debates around 'mediatization' currently unfolding across media and communication studies. The co-editors are very grateful to all participants for their contributions which show the continued vitality of the Network and its mailing list nine years after its inception in 2004.