P49
What is the future of the field-site? Multi-sited and digital fieldwork

Convenors:
Tanja Ahlin (University of Amsterdam)
Fangfang Li (University of Amsterdam / University of Barcelona)
Chair:
Tanja Ahlin, Fangfang Li
Discussant:
Loretta Baldassar (University of Western Australia), Razvan Nicolescu (UCL)
Location:
Science Site/Maths CM105
Start time:
4 July, 2016 at 14:00
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

The panel explores the future of fieldwork in which single or multiple geographic sites are extended by practicing fieldwork over ICT. What possibilities do the ICTs offer for fieldwork among skilled ICT users, and what does that mean for the ways we think about doing fieldwork?

Long abstract:

This panel showcases creative ways in which anthropologists and other social scientists tackle distance, multiple sites and virtual realities that come into being by using information and communication technologies (ICTs). Conducting fieldwork has changed significantly since the early days of anthropology. From fieldwork on a single, rather limited site, such as a village on one of the islands of Samoa or Papua New Guinea, or cities such as Chicago, social scientists have moved on to work across multiple geographic sites. Ethnographers and the people they study can now even move rapidly and frequently between multiple countries and even continents. Additionally, some have turned online virtual worlds into field-sites. A number of questions arise about what happens to the field site when multiple geographic sites are combined with the digital world. For example, how do researchers decide on carrying out single/multi-sited, long-distant or digital/virtual ethnographies, if they all seem to suit their topic? What happens to the virtues of doing extensive fieldwork 'on site' if the site gets dispersed? If collecting data over ICTs, how can we maintain both the richness and depth of the data? Can data be gathered exclusively through ICTs, or is it still necessary to visit physical sites too, and for what reasons? If multiple sites are possible, how do researchers decide which ones they will visit? We invite contributions that consider these or similar questions about fieldwork in sites where people use ICTs or researchers use electronically generated spaces as their field-site.