Archive | Notes from the Field

Understanding the Digital Infrastructure of Photo-sharing in China: Notes on Tuchong as an Example

Yunchang Yang, PhD Candidate, UCL Anthropology

IMG_2419

A photo of my working space, showing my laptop, notebook, IC card for working with images

On 3rd July 2019, I caught up with UCL Anthropology’s ASSA (Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Aging) team at a local pub behind Euston Station. Most of the researchers just returned from fieldwork and are starting data-sorting and writing. They shared some great stories in the field on how smartphones are playing different socio-cultural roles across various cultures and societies. When I introduced my work of amateur photography on the Chinese Internet to them and mentioned that many of my informants also practice photography on IOS and Android smartphones, they immediately thought of people taking photos with smartphones and sharing them with social media platforms.…

Continue Reading 0

Exploding Objects: A Month at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Rose Taylor, PhD Candidate, UCL Anthropology

Over the course of four weeks between June and July 2019 I participated in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History’s Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology (SIMA) in Washington D.C. SIMA is an intensive residential course designed to train and immerse the next generation of anthropologists and museum studies students in museum anthropology and object handling with the overall aim of revitalizing museum based anthropological research (see naturalhistory.si.edu/research/anthropology/programs/summer-institute-museum-anthropology-sima/sima-prospective-students.

Funded by the National Science Foundation Cultural Anthropology and Documenting Endangered Languages programs (Grant # 1824641), SIMA is directed by Joshua Bell, Curator of Globalization in the Anthropology Department of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Candace Greene, who retired from NMNH in 2017, began SIMA ten year ago to address the marginalization of museum collections within anthropological research by University based departments in the United States, specifically in terms of providing hands-on training.…

Continue Reading

Digital Anthropology in Practice

Jennifer Fu and Gemma Tortella-Procter, MSc. Digital Anthropology at UCL

“What exactly constitutes ‘digital anthropology’?” While the practical projects we worked on may not provide a comprehensive answer to this question (perhaps a ‘comprehensive’ answer doesn’t exist), it provides an idea of the things we care about as digital anthropologists and the direction we hope to push a traditionally text-based discipline in.

As a part of the MSc Digital Anthropology core course, all of the students are given the task and opportunity to “produce a publicly accessible website which will present the results of a mini research project about an instance of digital technology use.” The challenge for the 2017-2018 class was to find a London marketplace and investigate it in the context of its digital mediation.…

Continue Reading

Lloyd Coleman on How He Has Music at His Fingertips

Annamaria Dall’Anese – PhD Anthropology

 

 

Lloyd Coleman on How He Has Music at His Fingertips

 

Anthropology’s aim is to see the world through the native’s point of view (Malinowski 1961[1922]:25), and intersubjectivity is often the trigger of fruitful ethnographic discoveries, as well as human bonds in general (Jackson 1998:65). But what happens when a disparity between the sensory endowments of the actors intervenes in their encounter? To answer such an anthropological question, we turn to the relationship that Lloyd Coleman has with sound, music, and his clarinet. Educated at the Royal Academy of Music and recently appointed Associate Music Director of the Paraorchestra, the world’s only large-scale ensemble of disabled musicians, he is a hearing- (and visually) impaired composer.

Continue Reading

Experience Rich Anthropology Revisited

Hannah Knox, UCL Anthropology 

When I was an undergraduate at the University of Manchester in the late 1990s I recall being introduced by John Gledhill to something called ‘Experience Rich Anthropology’. Established by the anthropology department at the University of Ken, the ERA project was an early attempt to use the possibilities of new media technologies to open up anthropology to new audiences, and to present anthropological knowledge in new ways. The site is still available to view here

It is remarkable then, that in the ensuing 20 years, anthropologists have been rather slow to embrace the possibilities of digital media. Particularly now, when as a matter of course most anthropologists carry around powerful digital research tools in their pockets (smart phones which contain a camera, sound recorder, GPS locator, mapping tools, access to mappable social networks), we still seem remarkably wedded to the form of the research monograph or written journal paper that perhaps includes a few well chosen photographs from our field sites.…

Continue Reading

Information and Communication Technology and Wellbeing in the Merchant Marines

Annamaria Dall’Anese, PhD student, UCL Anthropology

If the informal use of the internet through personal devices on board merchant vessels encounters barriers due to patchy infrastructure and weather issues, then the formal provision of ICT-empowered telemedicine has brought to an end the era when the sea made the ship an entirely isolated environment. The ship in the age of ICT appears as Foucault described it: as a “heterotopia”; a place that is both isolated and penetrable. My interest in merchant marines was sparked by joining a cargo ship sailing from Australia to Singapore as a passenger/English teacher in 2009. The passage, though short, gave me the opportunity to discover the social life of these communities, and I became intrigued by the issue of connectivity at sea.…

Continue Reading

Notes from the Forest: Engaging with a hunter’s world of materials

Thorsten Gieser, Lecturer in Anthropology, Department of Kulturwissenschaft, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany

gieser-field-dressing-roe-deer

A winter’s day, in a forest in central Germany. At dusk, more than fifty hunters and beaters stand around the ‘gallow’, a wooden structure with a long beam on which the dead bodies of hunted game are hung after they have been field dressed. A small group of hunters play their horns and the eerie melodies of ‘Sows dead!’ and ‘Halali!’ fill the air, accompanied by the occasional dog who howls along. It is the end of a hunting day. After several hours on the beater’s track, I feel exhausted and tired. My boots and my trousers are smeared with blood and mud. Although I washed my hands briefly in icy water, there is still dried blood under my fingernails and in the lines of my skin.

Continue Reading

#LondonVegans: Deliberating, sensing and practicing vegans in a non-vegan city

Zachary Hecht, UCL Digital Anthropology Msc Student

Why would somebody forgo juicy steaks, delicate smoked salmon, velvety goat cheese, and the many seemingly delicious foods people eat? Why would somebody choose to submit themselves to the inconvenience of not being able to eat outside of their home without some advanced planning? Why would they refuse to wear products widely seen as fashionable and insist on knowing what their hygiene products are made of?

Why would anybody be vegan?

The individuals I conducted fieldwork with—members of what I term the London Vegan Community—are regularly asked this very question by family, friends, and even strangers. In popular media, veganism is often framed as being trendy and undertaken for supposed health benefits. While many—certainly not all—of my participants discuss health as being a vital component of their veganism, and many first learned about veganism due to its increasing popularity, each of my participants assert that veganism is an “ethical choice”; for London Vegans, veganism is a “social justice movement.”

As I write, we find ourselves living in a time widely referred to as the Anthropocene.…

Continue Reading

Night-Time Wanderings and the Out-of-Place

As I walked home late one night last week, I came upon a scene that perhaps many of us are familiar with. In a dark corner of a quiet area there lay a pair of new looking shoes, laced up and stood together, as if worn by a phantom man (they were a man’s shoes). There was something jarring about the scene. The shoes were too clean to really “belong” on the street, but yet there was nobody in sight, and who goes home without their shoes? After a moment I walked on, of course, but the image stayed with me. I couldn’t help thinking about the circumstances in which those new shoes came to be on that dark street corner.…

Continue Reading

Broken Stories

Adam Drazin, UCL Anthropology

How, when and why do people start to see something as”broken”? Do objects around the home just have two states, broken and working, or are there many other kinds of states they can be in? Clearly, the significance of many domestic objects is in relation to the projects of home which surround them and preoccupy the groups of people living together in a household. In some ways, household things are materialisations of projects, and ideas of being broken and fixed express this.

The Broken Stories project involved a group of Masters students on the UCL course Materials/Anthropology/Design at UCL working with Fixperts on issues of what kinds of fixing happen in the home, and what kinds of situations the Fixperts might get involved in.…

Continue Reading

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes