Media, technology, and knowledge cultures: anthropological perspectives on issues of diversity, mutuality and exclusion

Cora Bender (University of Siegen)
Ian Dent (University of Cambridge)
Dorle Dracklé
Start time:
29 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Many scholars have pointed out the necessity to study media as technology to decenter the textual content of media in favor of their social context. However, what do we mean by technology? This workshop seeks to expand media anthropology's perspective on issues of technology and cultural imagination.

Long abstract:

In recent years, many scholars in the field of media anthropology have pointed out the necessity to study media as technology in order to further decentre the textual content of media in favour of their social context. However, what do we actually mean by the use of the term 'technology'? This workshop intends to inspire the reception of recent debates both within anthropology and those related neighbouring disciplines which have vastly expanded certain perspectives on technology. Science and technology studies, material culture studies, ecology and environmentalism, medical anthropology, anthropological studies of cyberspace and technoscience, have all contributed to a much better understanding of technologies - not only as sets of material devices, but as complex, negotiated arrangements of agents, social practices, cultural imaginations, and circulating 'things'. Abandoning older 'ballistic' concepts of technologies simply as physical tools having an 'impact' on cultures, research into the dynamics of technoscience, suggests that much of what constitutes technology in a given situation is instead the outcome of politically interested media discourse - producing models of diversity, mutuality and exclusion. Nevertheless, every technological orthodoxy also produces its own heterodoxy. This unpacking of the 'black box' of technologies, therefore, calls for a fresh look at some of the differing and often opposing ways of how technology might be culturally constituted by, and within the media. In turn it also asks how media-related practices might also configure and re-configure technology and how technology and cultural imagination might interplay. Possible fields of exploration may include, amongst others: symbolic appropriations of technologies as 'techno-totems'; media, technology and the body; technology and minority claims; technology and indigenous media; media practices and technological ideologies; technologies, moral regimes, and joy; technologies and the reconfiguration of nature-culture boundaries; technologies and nationalism; technologies and imagined communities; technology and creativity; entertainment; media technology and gambling; technologies and representations of the post-human; visual cultures of technology; technology, media and empowerment; technology and the construction of the subject.