media practice/s, arenas of cultural production and the phenomenon of the cultural producer stood at the centre of the recent media anthropology’s workshop in barcelona. centring on so called new media, a broad range from communication scholars to sociologists and anthropologists inquired theoretical as well as methodological perspectives for doing anthropological research on digital and online media / practice.
aside of a good dozen of highly interesting papers that introduced on-going ethnographic fieldwork, the workshop was framed by four keynotes that were as distinctive as hopefully influential for the field of media studies. at this point just a brief subsumption of two of these thought provoking talks.
in her opening talk dorle dracklé, university of bremen, gave a brief and clear science study analysis / archaeology of media anthropology. following influential concepts and historical developments, she deconstructed and criticized the notion of a cultural “producer” and introduced that of cultural mediators/ mediation instead.
in contrast to notions of highly charged notions of cultural production (eg. frankfurter schule, birmingham school etc) mediation is seen as a rather neutral concept referring to the complexities of connections between persons, technologies and varying contexts (political, social, etc…). in a double-bind this as well turns from static perceptions, of networks, knots and lines, and leads to reflections of the in-between instead: a being “in touch with things” that shifts to the moment/us of weaving, creating assemblies, alliances, i.e. towards doing things.
don slater, london school of economics, also opted for broader perception of things as he as well added a vivid latourian approach, opting to map and actively involve objects and conditions into elaborations of media practice and production. referring to the core of cultural anthropology he underpinned differing cultural notions and forms of media and mediation or communication as such. not only slater thereby underscored the importance of ethnographic approaches as such. at the same time he brought forward his concept of a communicative ecology. that is an orchestrated assembly of “media”, i.e. of technology, humans, routes, roads, purposes and formulas of usage or practice. using some of his fieldwork done on ghana slater, along with drackle, shifted towards a broader understanding of “the media”. opening the term for other notions of media, may these be -as shown in his fieldwork – roads, family ties, electric light, loudspeaklers and sound systems or else. however, in contrast to drackle, he followed a more traditional path and therefore strongly highlighted exploring differences, advising to stronger take into consideration the people’s own explanations.
for theses keynotes as well as nick couldry’s reflection on media theory and practice and liz bird’s compelling thoughts on the challenges for ethnographic research see the mediaacciones page. it as well offers further information, talks, videos and papers etc… of the workshop.
the event as such was made possible by Elisenda Ardevol and her team at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, the European Association of Social Anthropologist (EASA), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) and EASA Media Anthropology Network.