ASA14: Anthropology and Enlightenment


Between the mediation of diversity and the diversity of mediations: considerations on contemporary world circulations, belongings and contours

Location Appleton Tower, Seminar Room 2.11
Date and Start Time 20 June, 2014 at 14:00


Marta Rosales (Instituto de Ciências Sociais) email
Maria Inês David (CRIA/FCSH-UNL) email
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It aims the widening of the anthropological gaze on present-day relationships between media and mobility. It seeks original contributions on the potentialities of integrated approaches in that field, while exploring its aptitudes to illuminate the discussions on identity, placement and belonging.

Long Abstract

There is a growing body of research concerned with the processes of the mediation of diversity as well as with the diversity of the types of mediations that are central in contexts of mobility, and on their implications in contemporary notions of identity, placement and belonging. Yet, ongoing transformations deriving from technological convergence and the diversification of migratory flows invite further mapping, and inter-relating, both old and new articulations between media and circulations, as well as on how they intersect with dominant notions of identity, placement and belonging. This panel aims exploring perspectives that are complementary to consolidated research. It invites innovative contributions that engage with new perspectives and dimensions of analysis:

by revisiting established themes such as:

- the politics of self-representation of minority populations;

- the possibilities unlocked by digital ICT, as well as by the combined use of "old" and "new" media in the management of relationships and belongings;

- relationships with technology (insofar as they are informed by temporality, materiality, media ideologies and so on) in what concerns the production and management of memories and heritage claims.

by discussing under-explored dimensions such as:

- the importance of destination-images in the motivations driving movement and the political economy of their production;

- the combined role of different media in the circulation of information for incorporation in the destination context;

- the existence of new molds and channels for the consolidation of imagined transnational communities;

- the uses of media among under-researched mobility cases, such as privileged flows.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Mobility as place? The use of virtual networks and social media within constant movement

Author: Anna Lisa Ramella (Universität Siegen)  email


This paper reflects on the use of social media of a touring band. While digital networks and social media provide an infrastructure to connect with ‚home‘, they are also used to engage with the audience. The paper explores this doubling of space and the notion of a mobile place.

Long Abstract

In early summer of 2013, I conducted fieldwork with a traveling band during their Europe and US tour for my PhD in Anthropology. My research focus is on the perception of place in a constantly mobile environment and the social factors that this lifestyle includes. In this paper, I will draw from the observations about the use of social media and virtual networks to connect with contacts "back home", but also those spread out through the infrastructures established by 8-year-long touring. While the subjects I traveled with are drawn together by a close though temporary community of band and crew members, new media devices like smartphones, internet access and virtual networks keep them constantly connected to the actors that are not physically with them. At the same time, as the band advances performing music in different states and continents, social media are used to promote their concerts and to get in touch with the audience. Private and public information does not only get shared through the same medium, but is also not clearly separated within; photographs posted on the band page get commented by private contacts, fans get added to the private facebook account, to name few examples. As the tour ends and both band and crew go home for a while, virtual networks are suddenly much less frequented. In this paper I would like to explore the facets of this mobile lifestyle connected to social media and the making of place in a mobile environment.

Stigmatization, connections and remembrances: mediation and Romani mobilities across the Atlantic

Author: Esteban Acuña C. (Freiburg University)  email


The paper analyzes how trans-Atlantic movements of Romani groups are presented in media and how their members cope with these representations. In this context, it proposes theoretical exchanges between mediation and mobilities as a way to avoid generalizations that mask their diverse realities.

Long Abstract

Recently, the labels 'Gypsy' and 'Nomad' have resurfaced in an avalanche of mediatic attention centered on human trafficking, poverty migration, deportation and criminality. This paper's argument focuses first on how the movements of Romani groups are presented in 'mass' media. It subsequently elaborates on how their members cope with these representations. Here 'new' media allow for experiences of contact, longing and remembering, now crucial both for mobilities themselves and for research on these dispersions. They have become a way to build connections and extend network ties in contexts of stigmatization. These reflections arise from quotidian contexts where discourses are reproduced, negotiated, ignored, or subverted; privileged sites to rethink the dialectic of mediation.

The paper has been divided in two parts. The first one deals with the 'Racialization of (Gypsy) Nomadism' as a 'universal project'. The section revises the crucial role of media and its political implications on flows of Romani groups from Europe to Canada. The second part presents an excerpt of the author's multi-sited fieldwork that concentrates on family dispersions and personal journeys. Descriptions are based on ethnographic tracing using documentary evidence, participant-observation, 'go-along's' and biographical interviews. Through this 'mobile' methodology, reveal processes of mediation in kinship, religious, business, political, academic and other exchanges intertwined in daily life. Finally, the conclusion argues for perspectives beyond a sedentary/mobile simplification. The text proposes theoretical exchanges between mediation and mobilities that nourish analyses of the complex and diverse mobile practices, connections, exchanges, and displacements of Romani groups.

Imagining the West: tourism, media and indigenous youth in Chiapas

Author: Marie Heřmanová (Charles University Prague)  email


The paper is based on a long-term field research in a south-mexican city and explores the relationship between mobility, media and imagination from the standpoint of those who never move, but have to deal with both real and virtual images of their dream destination.

Long Abstract

The paper follows the ways in which young indigenous people living at the suburbs of the mexican city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas develop imageries of what it means to be "modern" and "urban" youth in order to negotiate their cultural identity. These imageries are based on their everyday interactions with tourist and other global nomads in the city centre as well as on images from electronic media and social network communication. Based on an extended fieldwork among young indigenous people in San Cristóbal, the paper explores the process of creating a landscape of "imaginary West" (based on the notion of Alexei Yurchak, 2005), unseen yet ever-present homeland of the tourists and, most importantly, a place where "better lives" happen. The landscape of imaginary West creates a strong sense of belonging among those who long to move, but have never left the their homeland city. An attempt is thus made throughout the paper to look at migration and global movement from the standpoint of those who never move and to conceptualize the relationship between migration and media as an imaginative process, where the media (in this case, electronic media) serve as "technologies of imagination" ( Sneath, Holbraad & Pedersen, 2009).

Media for and by "expatriates": a pertinent category?

Author: Maria Inês David (CRIA/FCSH-UNL)  email


This paper explores an under-researched case in the media and minorities field: initiatives concerning privileged populations (EBU, 2011: 20-22). It examines the specificities of a locally produced radio station founded by, and catering to, self-designated ‘expatriates’ residing in the south of Portugal.

Long Abstract

Drawing on an ethnographic approach, the paper examines the case of Bright FM Algarve - a radio station largely produced by and for self-designated "expatriates" residing in the south of Portugal. It situates the station in the media ecologies (Tacchi et al 2006) of "lifestyle migrants"(Benson & O'Reilly, 2009; O'Reilly, 2000) to explore the specificities of its role.

It argues local radio add to other (local, national and international) media in triggering and facilitating the international move in search of amenities and "a better quality of life", as well as in the process of settlement - and the maintenance of transnational connection this involves. It suggests the radio strategically operates within the so-called migration industries (Castles, 2013; Hernández-Léon, 2008; Spener, 2009) even if not resulting from, nor displaying, conscious collective dynamics of cultural affirmation that are common amongst minority media (i.e. Echchaibi, 2002; Kosnick, 2008; Matsaganis, Katz, & Ball-Rokeach, 2011; Rigoni & Saitta, 2012; Silverstone & Georgiou, 2005).

The discussion problematizes the issues of inclusion and exclusion, voice, transnational connectivity, and cultural reproduction when discussing a medium of a population for whom integration is not necessarily a goal (King et al., 2000). Ultimately, it questions the pertinence of considering a category of "expatriate media".

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.