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240522 SE Digital and Visual Technologies as Material Culture (P4) (2019S)

Continuous assessment of course work

Participation at first session is obligatory!



max. 25 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Thursday 07.03. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 14.03. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 21.03. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 28.03. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 04.04. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 11.04. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 02.05. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 09.05. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 16.05. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 23.05. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 06.06. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 13.06. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock
Thursday 27.06. 16:45 - 18:15 Seminarraum D, NIG 4. Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

This course gives an overview about material culture as a conceptual and practical approach to understand digital and visual technologies. In doing so, it focuses on digital technologies, their visual aspects and how they are integrated and utilized in everyday life.

Mobile networked digital media technologies, such as smart phones, as well as social media platforms and services, such as Facebook or Instagram, have become important (visual) communication and (re)presentation tools. For social and cultural anthropology it is of particular interest how these digital devices and technologies are integrated and embedded into everyday life, by considering changing sociocultural, political and economic contexts. This course focuses in particular on the material aspects of digital and visual technologies and how they are utilized on a day-to-day basis. Questions about the relevance of a material culture approach for (the understanding of) technology appropriation on a theoretical and practical level as well as questions about (culturally) different usage practices are discussed. How does the understanding and conceptualisation of digital and visual technology as material culture contribute to the exploration and analyses of contemporary and emerging sociocultural practices and processes in increasingly digital societies?

By working on different case studies, students get a comparative overview about material culture in the context of digital and visual technologies. Students conduct small empirical research projects within teams. The university's online learning management system is used to provide resources and content as well as to encourage student's exchange and communication beyond the classroom.

Assessment and permitted materials

Course assessment comprises a written team project report of about 6.000 words at the end of the semester (50% of overall assessment, deadline for submission: 12 July 2019), the presentation of team projects (25%) and the active individual participation to the seminar by preparing, reviewing and discussing selected literature (25%). All assignments have to be completed to successfully pass the course. Course attendance is mandatory.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

see above

Examination topics

see above

Reading list

Selection (mandatory reading list will be announced in first session)

Appadurai, A. (Ed.). (1986). The social life of things: Commodities in cultural perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Boellstorff, T. (2016). For whom the ontology turns: Theorizing the digital real. Current Anthropology, 57(4), 387–407.
Boellstorff, T., Nardi, B., Pearce, C., & Taylor, T. L. (2012). Ethnography and virtual worlds: A handbook of method. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Dourish, P., & Bell, G. (2011). Divining a digital future: Mess and mythology in ubiquitous computing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Eglash, R. (2006). Technology as material culture. In C. Tilley, W. Keane, S. Küchler, M. Rowlands & P. Spyer (Eds.), Handbook of material culture (pp. 329–240). London: Sage.
Horst, H., & Miller, D. (Eds.). (2012). Digital anthropology. London: Berg.
Miller, D. (1987). Material culture and mass consumption. London: Blackwell.
Miller, D. (1997). Material cultures: Why some things matter. London: Routledge.
Miller, D., et al. (2016). How the world changed social media. London: UCL Press. Retrieved from http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1474805/1/How-the-World-Changed-Social-Media.pdf
Pfaffenberger, B. (1992). Social anthropology of technology. Annual Review of Anthropology, 21, 491–516.
Pink, S. (2011). Digital visual anthropology: Potentials and challenges. In M. Banks &
J. Ruby (Eds.), Made to be seen: Perspectives on the history of visual anthropology (pp. 209–233). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Postill, J., & Pink, S. (2012). Social media ethnography: The digital researcher in a messy web. Media International Australia, 145(1), 123–134.
Uimonen, P. (2015). Internet and social media: Anthropological aspects. In J. D. Wright (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences (pp. 600–605). New York: Elsevier.
Vannini, P. (Ed.). (2009). Material culture and technology in everyday life. New York: Peter Lang.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:40