EASA2014: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution

(P027)

Immateriality, mobility and the network (ANTHROMOB)

Location T-304
Date and Start Time 31 July, 2014 at 14:00

Convenor

Jessika Nilsson (University of Leuven) email
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Short Abstract

By examining mobilities rather than connectivities, the panel serves as an ethnographic and theoretical attempt to challenge and expand notions of network theory and assemblages of belonging

Long Abstract

This panel aims to problematize the static metaphors found within

much of network theory. The language of social network theory often casts projects in terms of their connectivity, neglecting material and immaterial mobilities. The increasing proliferation of technologies such as cellular data systems or infrastructure projects which enable new forms of mobility, are just some of the many recent developments that force us to question the conceptual lens through which we view networks.

We welcome papers that study the (intimate) relationships and collaborations enabled through technologies and the ways in which they function as a major tool for the re-assembling of networks throughout the world, both "traditional" and otherwise. Panelists are encouraged to critically engage with concepts such as "actor-network theory", "social network analysis" or "assemblages" and papers may expand the framework of network theory or dismiss it altogether.

The (potential for) innovations stemming from re-defining, re-configuring and re-purposing of mobile technologies are of particular interest. The panel seeks to challenge notions of modern-day affiliation and association by taking into account societies labelled both "developed" and "backward". Panellists are encouraged to probe possibilities for bringing about new orders of communication and collaboration, ones that break boundaries of tradition, drive innovation, perhaps even spur "revolution" - be it through social media, mobile phones, mobile banking or other technologies. The panel has no geographic focus and papers can either be entirely conceptual, or draw upon particular ethnographic case studies.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Situating ethnography in the interstice

Author: Theodoros Kyriakides (University of Manchester)  email

Short Abstract

The paper describes fieldwork I conducted with thalassaemia

patients in Cyprus. Using the concepts of "the interstice" and of "affect" I

propose an ethnographic modality which, through movement and stasis, strives

to locate the creatively and affirmatively connective in the everyday lives

of patients.

Long Abstract

This paper comes from fieldwork I conducted with thalassaemia

patients in Cyprus. Thalassaemia is one of the most common chronic blood

disorders worldwide, and is especially prevalent in countries around the

Mediterranean basin. Borrowing from Isabelle Stenger's concept of "the

interstice" as a relational assemblage which takes place in the in-between,

and also recruiting the concept of "affect" which has garnered considerable

momentum in philosophical and anthropological circles, I situate ethnography

beyond the setting of the clinic and into the creative practices of

relational resourcefulness and experimentation patients engage in their

everyday lives. Such relational play not only serves in coping with personal

pathology, but is also fuelled by patients' desires, responsibilities and

obligations. My aim is to invert the hierarchy which often distinguishes

medical ethnography: to write about pathological subjects, not as part of a

clinical setting and network, but of such setting and network as part of and

partial to such pathological subjectivities, accounting only for a small

percentage of their daily activities, concerns, struggles, whims, ambitions

and pleasures. I conclude by deliberating as to what a modality of situating

ethnography in the interstice entails; to delve in the interstice invites

ethnography to strive and identify the creatively, affirmatively and

affectively connective, or where this is blocked and subjugated in the

everyday lives of patients, and to accordingly exercise ethnographic

movement, but also stasis, so as to access and conceptualize otherwise

worlds.

When narratives travel: the Occupy movement in Latvia and Sweden

Author: Anne Kaun (Institute for Media and Communication Studies)  email

Short Abstract

The Occupy Wall Street movement has been considered as a global protest network consisting of nodes linked by a communicative infrastructure, but rather than a network the movement should be understood as a travelling narrative characterized by very specific reshapings in different localities.

Long Abstract

September 17th 2013 marked the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (OWS), which in autumn 2011 quickly spread worldwide setting the stage for the global Occupy movement. During the last two years the movement has changed considerably. The camps have disappeared and activists have developed ideas loosely linked to OWS into different directions. These are obvious changes over time, however, Occupy as an idea also changed while travelling to other localities. In this context, the movement has often been considered as a global protest network consisting of nodes linked by the communicative infrastructure of blogs, digests, and social networking platforms. While the network metaphor has been helpful to develop an understanding of communicative connectivity worldwide identifying nodes within the network, it also has been criticized for technological determinism and overemphasis of central nodes while missing the peripheries and in that sense for the establishment of new hierarchies. I argue that rather than one strongly interlinked network, the Occupy movement should be understood as a travelling narrative characterized by very specific reshapings and reinterpretations in different localities. In the paper, Occupy Stockholm and Occupy Latvia provide cases to illustrate this point from an explicitly European perspective identifying the specificity of European Occupy narratives. The main aim is, hence, to suggest a narrative approach to analyse global protest movements such as Occupy demanding radical and historical contextualization. The paper uses interviews with activists and a discourse analysis of mainstream news outlets to illustrate the methodological points being made.

Networks of insha'allah: affective densities of spontaneous leisure practices

Author: Lauren Wagner (Maastricht University)  email

Short Abstract

Through ethnographic narrative, this paper traces one family’s summer vacation at 'home' in Morocco, to explore how nodes of networked actors contributed to spontaneous, unpredictable travel - characterized by the expression ‘insha’allah’ as a metaphor of serendipity in leisure.

Long Abstract

Every summer for nearly forty years now, cars have piled onto the roads from the far reaches of Northern Europe, hurtling towards Spain and the ferry crossing to Morocco. Formerly Moroccan 'guestworkers', now these are the cars of Moroccan-origin European families, full of the children, grandchildren, and sometimes great-grandchildren of initial migrants, all moving in concert towards the holiday at 'home' in Morocco. Through ethnographic narrative, this paper documents one family's planning and execution of this journey in order to explore how nodes of networked actors contributed to participants spontaneously, unpredictably choosing to make the journey - characterized by the expression 'insha'allah' as a metaphor of serendipity - and how the journey itself, and the vacation that takes place in the 'homeland', relies on both immediate and imagined networks to spread that 'insha'allah' spontaneity into leisure spaces in Morocco. These data also document how the spatial networks of travel feed back through social networks, via the shared histories and mutually recognizable trajectories of its actors. Effectively, this framework argues for a qualitative approach to conceptualizing how social networks constitute community beyond direct linkages, creating affective densities of affiliation through the mass of connected nodes.

Ethics and culture in tracing social media networks

Author: Veronika Nagy (ELTE)  email

Short Abstract

Doing ethnographic studies on mobility raises several ethical issues about doing research in the context of the participatory culture of social media. Based on an ethical relativist theory, this paper will discuss those considerations that are challenging the moral decision-making researchers.

Long Abstract

Based on an ethical relativist theory, this paper will discuss those considerations that are challenging the moral decision-making of cyberfield researchers. Due to the increasing use of social media, new research fields are developing in ethnographic studies around online research methods. More recently, studies at the intersection of science and technology studies and communication studies "have adopted a view of social change that encompasses both the continuous and the discontinuous, the evolutionary and the revolutionary qualities and characteristics of media and information technologies and their effects" (Boczkowski & Lievrouw 2008:965). Doing ethnographic studies on mobility, in particular on transnational movement of marginalized groups, raises several ethical issues about doing research in the context of the participatory culture of social media. Studies on ethical dilemmas refer to the importance 'respondent's privacy' and often emphasise that the respondents have given their 'informed consent' for their participation in the research. In this paper I argue that combining online and offline studies by applying the facilities of specific social media sources also involves cultural values and norms of research participants that might be transgressive or in conflict with normative rules.

Relationship between social media and social movements: reading the mutualism with caution

Author: Erhan Ozcan (Hacettepe University)  email

Short Abstract

The relationship between social movements and communication media appears to become prominent as there supposedly lies the potentiality of a societal transformation and in this connection, in the paper to be presented, the scope of social media's impact on social movements will be argued.

Long Abstract

The relationship between social movements and communication media appears to become prominent as there supposedly lies the potentiality of a societal transformation. It is easy to observe that political activists utilize new media as an onset to give voice to their discontent about public issues, organize protests and mobilize thousands of protestors into city squares and streets. In this regard, arguments towards the relationship between digital networks and collective movements from a technological reductionist perspective seem to became prevalent.

Taking into account the role of Web 2.0 which enables social networks in mediating social movements, in this paper I will focus on the question of to what extent social media contributes to social movements by exemplifying recent social movements that occurred in Egypt, Turkey, Iran and the Philippines respectively. While doing so, I will adopt a perspective discussing said relationship in regards to digital activism.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.