Saturday, November 21, 2015: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM

603 (Colorado Convention Center)

Digital sociality is a relatively new space for ethnographic inquiry. As such, anthropologists are beginning to analyze the online/offline engagements of ethnographic subjects. And yet, we are not starting from zero when we consider the online lives of participants, particularly when we consider recent scholarship and our own circadian relationships with the digital. Through the implied juxtaposition of the ‘virtual’/online with the ‘real’/offline, digital researchers have inadvertently created a bifurcation of the digital and the non-digital. The two were considered analytically separate until the work of digital anthropologists who argue that the digital/online worlds are simply another social arena, similar to offline worlds, and that we as ethnographers have no reason to privilege one over another because social life is not more mediated simply because humans are no more cultural than we were before the onslaught of technPMogy (Boelstorff 2008; Horst & Miller, 2012). The reduction of social life to an abstract concept, here digital or any any phenomena that can be reduced to binary code, is similar to an earlier abstraction to systems of modern money. This abstraction allowed anthropologists to consider the consequences of money for humanity, similar to how we are interested in the consequences of the digital for our research engagements across transnational contexts. For this panel, the papers span the United States, Pakistan, Peru, Spain, Liberia, Argentina, and India and effectively dislocate the familiar digital world and reposition it as a peculiarly productive social and cultural space that does not begin and end on computer monitors. In each context, we also see the ways that imperial and/or (formerly) colonial nations are reframed through the digital space with subjects who have originated elsewhere. Scholars have begun to posit a “dialectic” relationship between the national and the transnational in order to understand the relational categories that delimit and create possibilities for human movement (Doyle 2009). This panel extends this dialectic to re-examine analytic frameworks such as migration studies, diaspora studies, and globalization (Kearney 1995; Vertovec 2003) as mediatized processes. Mediatization, the process whereby institutional practices recursively link processes of communication to processes of commoditization (Agha 2011), can in turn serve as a framing device to consider how the digital alters forms of communication and their participation frameworks (through wage-labor migration, education, media use) and thus alters the transnational subject’s experiences and aspirational trajectories. As all of our social practices become exponentially “transnational,” particularly given the proliferation of digital infrastructures, this panel seeks to present mediatized processes as part and parcel of the formation of transnational subjecthood, shaping migrants and non-migrants’ parallel journeys a world away. Transnational anthropology performs the important task of recognizing national categories within a larger sociohistorical and economic frame that acknowledges the past as well as contemporary and future-oriented frameworks. The papers reorient the practice of migration to how transnational migrants engage in online and offline communicative practices related to their transnational journeys, complicating the idea of the nation and of the trans-nation through their digital self-creations and theoretically, defamiliarizing the digital.

This session would be of particular interest to:
Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students

Organizers:  Mariam Durrani (UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA)

Chairs:  Diego Arispe-Bazan (University of Pennsylvania)

Discussants:  Asif Agha (University of Pennsylvania)

4:00 PM
New Cartographies of Psychotherapy: On-Line Mediatizations of the Therapeutic Encounter
Xochitl Marsilli-Vargas (University of California, Berkeley)

4:15 PM
Mediatizing Anti-Anti-Blackness: Emphatic Blackness and Conscious “Unrespectability” in the Digital Sociality of Young Transnational Liberians
Krystal A Smalls (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

4:30 PM
Desi/Brown As a Mediatized Muslim Youth Persona: The Online and Offline Life of Transnational Pakistanis

4:45 PM
“Proud to be Indian, Terrified As an Indian Woman”: Violence, Culture, and Nation on Social Media in India
Hannah Carlan (University of California, Los Angeles – Department of Anthropology)

5:00 PM
Ethnographic Time, Voicing, and Colonial/Postcolonial Transnational Communities on Social Media
Diego Arispe-Bazan (University of Pennsylvania)

5:15 PM
Asif Agha (University of Pennsylvania)

5:30 PM


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