FIRST ANNUAL AAA VIRTUAL CONFERENCE: FAMILIAR/STRANGE IN THE DIGITAL LANDSCAPE

Thursday, November 19, 2015: 7:45 PM-9:00 PM
Centennial D (Hyatt Regency)
Anthropology has always been at the forefront of engaging disparate communities and social issues. The digital revolution has expanded this potential reach and capability, but has brought with it new sets of challenges: issues of authenticity, accessibility, and scholarly credibility weigh on researchers looking to work in the field. Anthropologists interested in the digital must develop new technological skills and explore beyond well-trodden career paths. How is the digital not only changing the communities anthropologists study but also the anthropologists themselves? With Tom Boellstorff as moderator of an AAA sponsored roundtable discussion, key anthropological figures will discuss their own digital research experiences: highlighting how they became interested in the field, the challenges they have faced, and what skills and knowledge helped them along the way. They will address how the use and examination of the digital as a frame has enhanced anthropological endeavors and how we as a community can foster anthropologists in a digital age through education, training and refinement of digital methods and ethics.

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

Organizers:  Andrew Russell (American Anthropological Assn) and Katie Vizenor (American Anthropological Association)
Introductions:  Tom Boellstorff (University of California, Irvine)
Chairs:  Andrew Russell (American Anthropological Assn) and Samuel G Collins (Towson University, Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Criminal Justice)
Roundtable Presenters:  Thomas M Malaby (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), Alex J Golub (University of Hawai‘i Mānoa), Lynne Goldstein (Michigan State University), Patricia G. Lange (California College of the Arts) and Haidy Geismar (University College London)

Go to this site to watch it online http://aaalive.conferencecontent.net/

TRANSNATIONALIZING PUBLICATIONS

Thursday, November 19, 2015: 12:15 PM-1:30 PM

112 (Colorado Convention Center)

Digital communication has made it easier for anthropologists to publish for audiences abroad. This roundtable invites journal editors, writers, bloggers, and visual anthropologists to come together to discuss useful strategies for translating and disseminating contemporary research.

Organizers:  Carolyn Rouse (Princeton University, Department of Anthropology)

Presenters:  Oona Schmid (American Anthropological Assn) and Gordon Mathews (Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Crypto-Activism: Hackers’ Resistance to Digital Mass Surveillance

Thursday, November 19, 2015: 5:00 PM

102 (Colorado Convention Center)

David Bozzini (Graduate Center CUNY)

Cryptography has always been embedded in warfare, but debates over using cryptography to protect personal communications are new. Technologists use the term “cryptowars” to refer to political disputes over the legitimacy of using cryptography to protect digital communications between citizens. Intelligence and law-enforcement agencies have tried to weaken cryptographic systems; for example, by installing backdoors and forming data-sharing relationships with corporate entities. Meanwhile, actors advocating for their rights to private conversations have developed encryption tools and anonymizing technologies to help computer users avoid state and corporate surveillance. This paper explores the debates between government agencies and hacktivists (in particular, crypto-activists or “cypherpunks”) to reveal the dynamics that are revamping resistance to digital mass surveillance. Drawing from online sources and interviews, this paper sketches three aspects of the contemporary response to digital mass surveillance. First, it examines how crypto-activists are reframing digital surveillance as an issue of broad social importance rather than simply a matter individual privacy. Second, hacktivists are focusing efforts on reaching out to “users” in order to educate them about surveillance. Third, hacktivists are developing ethical assumptions and political critiques of technical infrastructures, protocols and work-flows. In many cases, these critiques inform the experimental design and implementation of privacy-centric software and alternative distributed architectures. This paper aims to underline the increasing political and social importance of debates around cryptography.

A paper in the ANTHROPOLOGY OF ICT: CELLULAR INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA, MOBILE MONEY, DECENTRALIZED ARCHITECTURE, BIG DATA panel.

DIGITAL MEDIA AND RECONSIDERING THE BOUNDARIES OF YOUTH IN JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA

Thursday, November 19, 2015: 1:45 PM-3:30 PM

Mineral Hall E (Hyatt Regency)

This panel explores practices and discourses on and about digital media and how these pertain to the shifting boundaries of youth—boundaries of who are and what it means to be “youth”; ethical boundaries of what is acceptable for young people to express; political boundaries of who and what constitute the left, the right and everything in between. The rapid development of digital media have closely interwoven with the emergence of flexible subjects accompanied by flexible accumulation of late capitalism in many different locales globally, including in Japan and South Korea. This panel examines the way in which digital media have been instrumental as people attempt to reflect on the social changes they have lived and are living out day by day. This panel explores how and why youth have come to be central to newly emerging media cultures, refusing to take for granted the reasons why youth are the most active participants and producers of the new media by assuming that it is natural that a young generation is keener on new technologies than older age groups. Instead, this panel will analyze what they do with the new media technologies in relation to their politico-economic conditions. Further, we will consider “youth” itself as an unstable category. This panel thus starts with questions such as: What are the conditions of youthfulness in a given locale? How do youth identify themselves and how are they identified by others? And, what roles do new media technologies play in their experiences of being youth? The rapid development of digital media in Japan and South Korea over the last couple of decades offers rich soil to explore the inquiry this panel will attempt to address. While each locale has developed its own unique youth and media culture, Japan and South Korea also share commonalities, especially because of their long history of complex interactions including, colonial modernity as well as the increasing interconnectivity that new media technologies have brought about. This panel seeks to create a dialogue about the complex interplay among youth, the new media, and social transformations that have taken place in Japan and South Korea. The papers presented in this panel particularly pay attention to the way in which this interplay deconstructs and reconstructs social boundaries such as nationality, queer identity, winners/losers, and normative ideas of social development. These boundaries have played an important role in shaping how youth are defined as a certain generation embodying politico-economic conditions at given times as well as how people categorized as youth experience themselves in such conditions. The new media offer an arena where social boundaries which were once familiar are contested, negotiated, and reconfigured into something new and strange. The new strange, however, also contains the old familiar, despite variations that media technologies add. Scrutinizing the familiar/strange of social boundaries mediated by digital media will help us to problematize truth regimes of our era, ones that normalize and legitimize the conditions of late capitalism.

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

Organizers:  Sunyoung Yang (University of Toronto)

Chairs:  Andrea G. Arai (University of Washington)

Discussants:  Jesook Song (University of Toronto)

1:45 PM
Online and Off Center: The Strange-Familiar of Japanese Youth and 2Channel 
Andrea G. Arai (University of Washington)

2:00 PM
For Japan Only?: On the Crossing and Re-Inscribing of Boundaries in the Online Circulation of Adult Computer Games 
Patrick William Galbraith (Duke University)

2:15 PM
Like Stars Online, Facing Discrimination Offline: Young Women’s Exploration of Sexual Identity Online and Its Limits in Neoliberal South Korea 
Layoung Shin (University of California, San Diego)

2:30 PM
Korean Internet Freak Youth and Their Politics of Loser Aesthetics 
Sunyoung Yang (University of Toronto)

2:45 PM
Discussion 

3:00 PM
Discussant 
Jesook Song (University of Toronto)

3:15 PM
Discussion 

BEYOND THE (FAMILIAR) TEXT: ANTHROPOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS IN METHOD, FORM, AND CONTENT

Thursday, November 19, 2015: 10:15 AM-12:00 PM

603 (Colorado Convention Center)

This roundtable focuses on critical explorations in anthropological storytelling. Bringing together a variety of scholars whose work pushes beyond the traditional practices of the discipline, we explore how anthropologists can move beyond the familiar forms and methods of ethnography through the use of visual, sonic, sensory, and digital platforms and methodologies. Participants will discuss how they have calibrated various modes of inquiry and representation in their different projects — which include sound recording, film essays, visual arts, GPS mapping, augmented reality, museum exhibits, memoirs, and works of fiction — and how these various tools and venues can open up new pathways of critical analysis in conversation with other disciplines and emerging fields of study. This panel also takes a historical perspective and asks in what ways, and for what constituencies, these modes of storytelling are actually new.

OrganIzers:  Yarimar Bonilla (Rutgers University)

Chairs:  Steven Feld (VoxLox)

Roundtable Presenters:  Elizabeth Povinelli (Columbia University), Jason De Leon (University of Michigan, Department of Anthropology), Natasha Myers (York University), S. Lochlann Jain (Stanford University), Anna Tsing (University of California-Santa Cruz) and Elaine Gan (University of California, Santa Cruz)

ANTHROPOLOGY OF ICT: CELLULAR INTERNET, SOCIAL MEDIA, MOBILE MONEY, DECENTRALIZED ARCHITECTURE, BIG DATA

Thursday, November 19, 2015: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM
102 (Colorado Convention Center)
This panel contextualizes contemporary Information and Communications Technology (ICT) within complex power topographies and explores how people creatively invent, adopt, adapt and resist ICT in various contexts. Academics are increasingly fascinated by the rapid global proliferation of ICT, even within impoverished and marginalized communities. Smartphones and cellular internet offer new forms of communication, association and exchange. Social networking platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp enable people to maintain far-flung, transnationally-dispersed networks of family and friends. Mobile money platforms like M-Pesa bring financial services to the “unbanked.” Decentralized platforms, protocols and processes like cryptocurrency, onion routing, mesh networking, and crowd funding enable novel forms of collective expression, collaboration, problem solving and subterfuge that are poised to disrupt existing industries, power structures and even families. [PARAGRAPH] Many policymakers and pundits enthusiastically depict ICT as inherently egalitarian, enlightening and emancipatory: Twitter will bring democracy, Wikipedia will dispel ignorance, WhatsApp will jumpstart entrepreneurialism and the “deep/dark web” will make everyone a potential whistleblower. Against this backdrop of cyber-optimism, more perspicacious social scientists have noticed that existing inequalities often resurface as digital divides and that powerful corporate and state interests permeate cyberspace. Space-compressing digital communications technologies may, paradoxically, lead to increased social distance within local communities and families. Online socialization generates “big data” that is lucratively mined in the service of state-sponsored espionage, targeted corporate advertising and even political engineering.
This panel will bring attendees up to speed with emerging technologies in the contemporary ICT ecosystem: how they work, why they are sociologically relevant, and their utility for anthropological research. Ethnographic case studies from around the world will illustrate the multitudinous ways that ICT is reinvented in various places. Presenters will examine questions including: whether decentralized and anonymizing technologies are potentially destabilizing to state and corporate power formations; how online social networks mesh with in-the-flesh social formations; how innovation and infrastructure deployment often recapitulate race and gender divides; how internet corporations and mobile network operators are increasingly influential in shaping everyday human interaction; and how ethnographic data from YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines and online forums can be productively and ethically obtained and analyzed. The session will conclude with a reflection on the importance of anthropological engagement with emerging network technologies, followed by a period of open discussion.

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

Organizers:  William J Suk (Syracuse University)
Chairs:  Deborah Pellow (Syracuse University)
Discussants:  Robert D Albro (American University)

4:00 PM Cyberinfrastructure, Start-up Culture, and the Right to the City Shannon M Jackson (University of Missouri Kansas City)

4:15 PM Zvirikufaya Ku Diaspora 2.0: Zimbabweans Debating Migration with a Viral Internet Meme William J Suk (Syracuse University)

4:30 PM Hard Knowledge, Soft Data: Gendered Discourses in Cultural Conceptualization of Digital Data Yuliya Grinberg (Columbia University)

4:45 PM Mobile Money and the Navigation of Risk and Mobility in Kenya Dillon Mahoney (University of South Florida)

5:00 PM Crypto-Activism: Hackers’ Resistance to Digital Mass Surveillance David Bozzini (Graduate Center CUNY)

5:15 PM Discussant Robert D Albro (American University)

5:30 PM Discussion

ETHNOGRAPHIC ENGAGEMENTS WITH DIGITAL ALTERITY I

Thursday, November 19, 2015: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM
Capital Ballroom 1 (Hyatt Regency)
As digital technologies become ever more ubiquitous as artefacts and infrastructures via which human relations are conducted, this panel explores an approach to digital relations that asks not whether the digital is virtual or real, but just what kind of reality the digital is. Rather than taming digital technologies by incorporating them into standard anthropological accounts of either technology design or technology use, we approach the digital real as a specific space of alterity with rich implications for anthropological theory. From the sensory infrastructures which feed data streams that are analysed by algorithms, to the distributed networks of programmers and players that make gaming environments, digital technologies do not simply provide representations of an external world, but participate in the organisation of relations through which new worlds are brought into being. Moving beyond a dialectic of human/technology or virtual/real, this panel aims to both explore the epistemological dynamics by which such separations and boundaries are reproduced, and to push towards an approach to digital technologies that allows for the relational specificity of a variety of digital forms (e.g. computer models, social media platforms, digital devices, and online games) to be interrogated as active and often unfamiliar(/Other) participants in human social worlds. Looking to the disruptive, unsettling, or transformative effects of digital technologies, this panel aims to explore how they raise new questions about the role of difference, identity, simulation, fakery, newness, automation, unpredictability, invisibility, authenticity and agency for anthropological accounts of social relations. To explore these ideas, we invite papers from a wide range of ethnographic settings to address such issues as the semiotics of algorithms, the phenomenology of number, the materiality of digital infrastructure, the relational extensions of networks and the ontological cuts that such technologies effect. In drawing attention to ontology, we are interested in the question of how digital technologies not only perform and produce the boundaries of the ‘real’ as we know it, but are also active in defining new, strange spaces beyond those boundaries; and what implications this might have for reframing what we might call a ‘digital’ form of anthropology.

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

Organizers:  Antonia Caitlin Walford (It University of Copenhagen and University College London) and Hannah C Knox (University College London)
Chairs:  Hannah C Knox (University College London)
Discussants:  Tom Boellstorff (University of California, Irvine)

4:00 PM Digital Comparisons: Real Nature, Authentic Culture and Anthropological Alterity  Antonia Caitlin Walford (Open University and University College London)

4:45 PM Computational Thinking As an Ontological Programme?

Christopher Gad (IT University of Copenhagen) and Rachel Douglas-Jones (IT-University of Copenhagen)

5:00 PM The Counter-Politics of Open Source Hardware Hannah C Knox (University College London)

5:15 PM Discussant Tom Boellstorff (University of California, Irvine)

5:30 PM Discussion