EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W120)

Homo technologicus

Location Rowan Room 2
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenor

Dan Podjed (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU)) email
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Long Abstract

A period of crisis and rapid decline in the global economy has been accompanied by a concurrent growth of social media tools and online social networking sites, e.g., Facebook and Twitter. This is set within a wider trend towards an increasing technological mediation of human social life and experience. Does this constitute, as Castronova has argued, an 'exodus' of humankind to virtual worlds and an escape from the harsh actuality of everyday life? Does not the engagement with technology foster its very own forms of often-unprecedented risk, e.g., recent privacy crises and drone warfare? On one hand, this workshop questions whether these mediated worlds are separate and bounded entities or, rather, virtual 'extensions' of the actual. On the other, it also attempts to provide an answer to the question of how technologies broaden a perception of identity and permit new configurations of self and community, while cyborg imaginaries and mechanical implants in humans transcend the common understanding of Homo sapiens.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Man and technology: how technology affects socialization

Author: Sara Marino (University of Urbino)  email
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Long Abstract

I try to analize if and how the new tools of social networking and virtual life are able to disclose a postmodern new anthropology.

If social networks like Facebook and the tools of Web 2.0 such as Second life are able to predict a new evolution or not.

How the meanings of public and private change? How the experiences of real life change? Can we still imagine free communication's space in the postmodern age?

Roughly, my investigation aims to understand the anthropological sense of the ongoing and ever changing cultural dynamics related to the new technologies. Among other things, I am also trying to observe how the development of the Internet creates new forms of participation and new mechanisms of inclusion/exclusion based not on the traditional dichotomy us/them, but on the existing differentation between us - connected/ them - de - connected; that is, between participating elites and marginal masses (something that should be read in the peculiar context of Italy, but not exclusively).

'Performing cyborgs': beyond nature and culture in electronic music performances in Athens

Author: Vassiliki Lalioti (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)  email
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Long Abstract

Exploration of the human-technology interface places it within current discussion about the boundaries between nature and culture that lead to new understandings of humans as the subject and object of anthropology. Electronic music performances is a privileged field for the investigation of these boundaries since they create an unbreakable unity of humans, sounds, and computers. An ethnographic approach to such performances in Athens shows that technology constitutes an integral part of humans' world and not a clearly distinguishable object. Participants do not use technologies so much as they live them and new technologies are constantly transforming the lived experience of music. Musical performances become, thus, cyborgs, inorganic becomings compounded of human and machine that transcend boundaries and create new realities and new manifestations of being.

The politics of reconstructing locality from a distance: actors and strategies

Author: Maria de Fátima Amante (Instituto Superior de Ciencias Sociais e Politicas - Universidade Técnica de Lisboa)  email
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Long Abstract

The papers' purpose is to explore discursive strategies involved the construction and reproduction of local identity. The fieldwork experience my paper deals took place on several local Iberian communities. I was confronted with diversified actors and strategies operating in order to sustain locality and reconstruct them as a community against national and global society. For one, I will be referring some strategies that, for being on the individual level, are not planned as real strategies, i.e., they are not designed with a specific goal. For another I will deal with some discursive strategies that are specifically planned and intended to produce an effect that relates to reaffirmation and reconstruction of sense of belonging. In the process of reconstruction of a sense of belonging I will argue for the relevance of actions originated from outside the community through the usage of media and technologies, mainly local web pages and blogs.

'Taking the floor' through internet: case study analysis from Morocco

Author: Josiane Tantchou (CNRS)  email
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Long Abstract

Despite the early interest in new media and an emerging anthropological literature, there have been relatively few ethnographic works on computing and internet technologies within anthropology. As a result, much anthropologists understanding of new information and communication technology comes from other disciplines (Dickey, 1997; Wilson and Leighton 2002) . Yet technologies comprising the Internet, and all the text and media that exist within it are in themselves cultural products and information and communication technologies based on the Internet have enabled the emergence of new sorts of communities and communicative practices-phenomena worthy of the attention of anthropological researchers (Wilson and Leighton 2002).

Internet is giving people a way to self publish, and share rapidly their ideas and opinions in ways never quite possible before. We ask the following question: what are the political implications of ICTs? How are they used to give rise to voice still unheard by the mass-media, political protest and various form of militancy? This last question will be examine through a thorough analysis of discourses produced on three "events" which gave rise to many discussions, with strong emotional feelings.

My presentation will explore the discourses produced and published on websites about these three events. I wish to show how those voices usually unheard by the "traditional" Medias, are "taking the floor" through Internet to produce polysemic discourses. In this case, a remind/critic of the fundamental values of one societies, a discourse on distant and close Others, modernity and liberty.

From zero to hero: the power of online social networks

Author: Dan Podjed (Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU))  email
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Long Abstract

In last few years networking websites (e.g. Facebook) have created new social topology. Some people managed to collect thousands of friends, while others remain poor in their social capital. Power of 'online wealth' is shown by examples of media stars Susan Boyle and Valentina Hasan who gained worldwide recognition with the support of most linked individuals in such networks, possessing ability to spread fads over night. Another example is of two anonymous men from Slovenia who managed to capture a criminal. Spreading like a virus, YouTube video of their bizarre description of the events was seen by a million people and web pages were created to celebrate their deeds. The author of the paper, who carried out detailed analysis of his Facebook relations, claims that such individuals could not become famous without special traits of online networks, which can be - according to A. L. Barabási - described as 'scale-free networks', in which the 'richest' individuals act like 'hubs' for transmission of information.

Ideology of internet, activist imaginary, and international humanitarian aid in Lebanon

Author: Elisabetta Costa (British Institute at Ankara (BIAA))  email
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Long Abstract

Internet ideology has a focal role in the activist imaginary in Lebanon. The belief that the widespread use of internet and social media will affect society led many actors to see the new media as an end not only as a means.

My aim is to investigate practices and imaginaries of activists involved in local NGOs, on-line journalism and new media projects supported by international humanitarian aid organizations. I show how new media are shaping people's understanding of activism and political partecipation, within a new context of transnational forms of powers, technologies of governances and development. Therefore I am interested in exploring new critical thoughts on new forms of disciplinary processes in the Middle East, and the way they are related to new hegemonic discourse about the capacity of new digital technologies to renew democracy, citizen empowerment and civil society.

Blogging as public diary, strategy of professionalization, and political tool: a case study of the Lebanese blogosphere

Author: Sarah Jurkiewicz (Zentrum Moderner Orient)  email
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Long Abstract

The Lebanese blogosphere is known for being especially active in political crisis. But also after the blogging boom during the July-War in 2006, bloggers have been continuously writing about daily life especially in Beirut, commenting on social issues, posting about cultural events and mocking political discussions.

In my paper I would like to discuss the ambitions and agendas of different Lebanese bloggers, based on my recent fieldwork in Lebanon. Thereby I will shed light on their multiple reasons for engaging in this particular media practice: from keeping a record for oneself in a 'public diary', for professionalization in journalism or design as well as using it as a political tool. Though how can ambitions and rewards of blogging be conceptually and empirically grasped and connected - especially as they might change through time and extensive use?

Waiting for exhale in front of the TV screen: few words about social tactics of soap opera audience

Author: Łukasz Leszek Sokołowski (Warsaw University)  email
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Long Abstract

Television is still the most popular media while soap opera is the most popular TV genre. Furthermore the genres of soap opera and TV serial flourish and dissimilitude. The challenging question arouses: what makes audience in times of DVDs and internet movies so attached to regular redundant TV narration?

The goal of this paper is to present results of my pre-fieldwork research conduct in Poland's capital. I would like to present three case studies of three groups differing by age, social and cultural background though living in the same neighborhood. The one thing they have in common is the fact that they watch soap operas. The genre has become extremely popular during last decade and even president has to remember about the time of "next episode". It's has been often described that soap opera is used as social tool of changing attitudes and lifestyles. On contrary I would argue using Michel de Certeau theory of everyday life that apparently it's the viewers who, as "wise consumers" choose the favorite opera and the producers have to remember what audience accepts. Watching the vision of life they identify with helps to escape and then affirm their everyday life existence. The mediatised experience becomes part of self-image, group relations and social/moral landscape and encourages individuals to face life turmoil. Their peculiar tactics are going to presented as well as some producers' strategies in trying to answer the question if in country where "crisis is always" people find serenity and encouragement serial TV narratives.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.