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EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010


Media Anthropology network workshop: the rewards of media

Location Auxilia AX1
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30


John Postill (RMIT University) email
Philipp Budka (University of Vienna) email
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Long Abstract

This workshop is a sequel to the Media Anthropology Network workshop on media practices held at the EASA conference in 2006. Whilst on that occasion the aim was to theorise media practices in general, this workshop will focus on a crucial aspect of mediated practice, namely its rewards. As contemporary social worlds become ever more media-saturated - particularly after the huge surge in mobile phone uptake - questions arise about the considerable amounts of time and money that many individuals and groups appear to spend using, learning, sharing and making all kinds of media technologies (mobiles, blogs, wikis, radio, social networking sites, etc.). Presenters may wish to address questions such as:

- What are the rewards (cultural, social, economic, etc.) that people derive from engaging in media practices?

- Why do people around the globe devote scarce temporal and financial resources to media practices?

- How do people caught up in the global turmoil use media technologies to create new jobs, imagine future economic scenarios or 'forget' their financial woes?

Discussant: Mark A. Peterson

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.


Mobile rewards: a critical review of the Mobiles for Development (M4D) literature

Authors: John Postill (RMIT University)  email
Francisco Osorio (Sheffield Hallam University)  email
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Long Abstract

The extraordinary rate of diffusion and adoption of mobile phones across the global South over the past decade has given rise to a new interdisciplinary field known as Mobiles for Development (M4D). The key debate in the field is whether mobile phones are having any significant impact on the economic livelihoods of marginalised people living in regions such as Africa, Asia and Latin America. Positions range from those who argue that mobiles are finally enabling poor people to overcome the digital divide to those who suggest that mobiles are in fact exacerbating old inequalities, through a number of in-between positions, including that of scholars who argue that only some low-income people (e.g. micro-entrepreneurs) are reaping the economic rewards of mobile phones. This paper is a critical review of the multilingual, peer-reviewed M4D literature on this unresolved debate from 2001 to 2010. Drawing from the theory of practice, we search for novel ways of mapping the shifting rewards of mobile practices under conditions of rapid change. The two main working assumptions are that mobile phones have blurred the lines between lives and livelihoods (Donner 2009) and that the rewards of mobile practices in the global South are of many different kinds (financial, social, expressive, sensual, etc., Warde 2005) and not solely 'for development'.

Modding's rewards

Author: Alexander Knorr (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, München)  email
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Long Abstract

Within the transnational technoludic online communities of practice—among which I am doing persistent thick participation since 2002—informal mutual tutelage and training is a core practice. In the case of 'game modding' this may well amount to 'postindustrial unwaged labour.' But there is another, less negative interpretation. First, the online-communal practices enable the members to live their personal conglomerations of ambiences, sentiments, aesthetics, and narrative content, built from a lifetime of digesting popular culture, and of assimilating its modes of representation into their own conceptions of life. Second, since I presented 'my online tribe' at the 2006 workshop of the media anthropology network, more than half of the core-group has crossed the blurry border to professionalism and works in exactly the jobs they envisioned during the early times of the community. By expanding Henry Jenkins's notion of co-creative media I will collapse this twofoldness of rewards, mythopoeic and economic, into one.

Contested rewards: the rewards of ethnographic media practice

Author: Sarah Pink (RMIT University)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper draws from existing literature and my own research to explore the 'rewards of media practices' in ethnography. Given that different scholarly approaches to ethnography make different claims to the rewards that media might bring this offers an interesting case study through which to examine how the rewards of media practices can be contingent and contested.

While during the twentieth century the use of media in ethnographic practice was little appreciated by the mainstream 'ethnographic' disciplines, in recent years visual methods and media have become increasingly popular. In this paper I interrogate the implications of these shifts. I will review the 'rewards' that ethnographers using visual methods claim to gain from their practice the epistemological bases for these being understood as rewards. In doing so I reflect on the notion that the use of audio-visual media can bring rewards (e.g. deeper knowledge, new ways of understanding, participatory forms of representation etc) into ethnographic practice. I will suggest that ethnographic media practices form part of a shifting debate about the nature of ethnographic practices. Media practices are argued to bring certain 'rewards' to ethnographic knowledge, yet the nature of the rewards is contingent on methodological approaches and epistemological foundations. Different collectivities of ethnographers with varied disciplinary and/or theoretical affiliations become recruited to different practices and epistemologies. Thus the rewards of media in ethnographic practice are themselves contingent and riddled with all the uncertainties of scholarly debate.

Youth, Families and Participation in Networked Public Culture

Author: Heather Horst (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology)  email
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Long Abstract

Youth throughout the world are growing up in world where new media and technology are changing norms of communication, creation and participation. Building upon ethnographic research among American youth and families in Silicon Valley, this presentation will focus upon the rewards of participation in and through new media and technology. Specifically, I focus upon the ways in which youth participate in networked publics that enable opportunities for developing recognition, reputation, specialized knowledge and feedback that extend beyond their place-based knowledge networks. At the same time, I suggest that for many youth and their families in Silicon Valley, place and place-based networks play a central role in shaping how youth come to understand and value their participation in networked public culture. Understanding this interplay is thus critical to understanding the rewards of new media participation.

'Generation C'? The internet usage practices among the young people

Author: Pille Runnel (Estonian National Museum)  email
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Long Abstract

In internet usage studies, the study of European youngsters' internet usage practices showed how online practices are embedded in their everyday life. One can talk about digital gradation, where being involved in some practices is a prerequisite for getting involved in others. The complexity increases from private-oriented practices (services and information retrieval) to socially oriented practices (commenting, sharing with peers etc.) to participatory practices, which are directed to participating in public and institutional spheres. At the same time, the increasing complexity of usage practices is not an exclusive pattern in internet usage. Majority of young people are not much involved in online content creation at all. Although the participatory potential of the internet is stressed, the usage in terms of online content creation practices highlights internet as a means of practicing one's creativity, as a tool for self-expression and as an environment of a rather limited array of cultural consumption.

Engagement and creative labour in new media practices

Authors: Elisenda Ardèvol (Fundació per a la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)  email
Gemma San Cornelio (Open University of Catalonia)  email
Toni Roig (Open University of Catalonia)  email
Edgar Gómez (University of Leeds)  email
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Long Abstract

In the context of cultural production coming up from the so-called New Media environment a set of changes regarding creative processes are taking place. These changes point out to the implication of audiences, fans and amateurs in new ways of interrelation with the media industry. There are two opposite main discourses regarding this fact: the first one underlines the importance of creativity in the current economy and the second one criticizes the instrumentalization of media users’ engagement from the point of view of labour conditions in these sectors. Our proposal aims to explore the creative practices of new media regarding their productive and labour aspects, but also the aesthetic pleasure and affective rewards involved in such experiences. The paper will be based on our current research carried out through different case studies: locative media art projects, creative online communities of amateur photographers, videogame players and collaborative film production.

User-generated content and cultural heritage: rewards and challenges

Author: Smiljana Antonijevic Ubois (Penn State University )  email
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Long Abstract

Media practices of creating user-generated content (UGC) are considered to be related to the following rewards: obtaining public acknowledgement; earning peer recognition; building reputation in a community; expressing oneself; developing skills that can become a profession. With UGC related to cultural heritage, sharing knowledge and contributing to a common idea is often seen as key stimuli (e.g., professional and amateur subject specialists might be prompted to contribute local content in different languages). UGC related to cultural heritage is considered to complement institutionally provided content by offering new information on cultural phenomena; transforming static content authority into dynamic, multisided knowledge platform; fostering understanding of culture as an ongoing process. However, UGC is also considered to introduce unverified and/or difficult to verify popular knowledge; debates on reliable content related to sensitive multicultural issues; difficulties related to intellectual property. This paper will explore both rewards and challenges of UGC related to cultural heritage.

My name is Khan: crisis, media and imagination

Author: Elke Mader (University of Vienna)  email
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Long Abstract

The Bollywood movie "My name is Khan" (Karan Johar, India 2010) represents and engenders various interconnections between crises and media. On the one hand, the story of the film evolves around 9/11 as a major crisis in the life worlds of Muslims in the US; on the other hand, the release of the movie in Mumbai was threatened by the Hindu Nationalist Shiv Sena party causing a minor crisis that involved various persons, political groups and media.

The paper wants to investigate how a mixture of old and new media technologies (movies, TV, and digital online media such as twitter or fan sites) interact in imagining, enacting, and consuming crisis and its representations. Furthermore, it shall analyse this particular interface of crisis/imagination as a set of practises that engages the Indian film industry, audiences, journalists, and politicians in interconnected media worlds.

Popular culture and music in an indigenous online environment

Author: Philipp Budka (University of Vienna)  email
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Long Abstract

In 2000 the First Nation organization K-Net created a dedicated online environment particularly for the young people of the indigenous communities of Northwestern Ontario, Canada. The homepage service provides people with a place on the WWW, where they can create online presences and communication tools. This paper critically analyses, its inhabitants and its role in First Nation communities by taking a look at its development in the context of indigenous media production in this isolated region. Popular culture and music are important parts of life in Users share and circulate music via the exchange of "music codes", the present self-made music and lyrics and the idolize musical artists. What are the rewards for people to present and share music in an online environment? How do TV and radio influence online musical practices? What does the streaming of music mean to the network and users? How does fit in today's MySpace and Facebook world?

Radio Stars in Benin (West Africa)

Author: Tilo Grätz (FU Berlin)  email
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Long Abstract

None provided.

Discussion paper: media rewards - some preliminary reflections

Author: Mark Allen Peterson (Miami University)  email
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Long Abstract

Critical analysis of popular culture by scholars is often met with bafflement by consumers of popular culture, who frequently feel that the subtle nuances of textual analysis fail to capture their experiences. "It's just escapism" is a frequent rebuttal of what is seen as scholarly overinterpretation. The pioneering work of Janice Radway (1984) turned this response into a crucial social question: from what are people escaping and to what do they escape? Her investigation showed crucial links between the social worlds of media consumers, the content of the media they consume and their practices of consumption. In the 25 years since this work, media technologies, consumption practices and the nature of media content have all changed dramatically, with some new forms of interactive media fundamentally challenging the distinctions between content, media and consumption assumed by previous work. This paper discusses the contributions of the papers in this panel and places them within the context of emerging theories of media rewards in the 21st century.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.