Postill, J. forthcoming. Public anthropology in times of media hybridity and global upheaval. In S. Abram and S. Pink (eds.) Media, Anthropology and Public Engagement. Oxford: Berghahn.
The growing popularity of new social and participatory media at a time of global turbulence raises challenging questions for anthropologists wishing to engage with publics beyond academia. In this chapter I draw from my experience as a media anthropologist researching activism and social protest to explore some of these challenges. I argue that an updated public anthropology is required if we are to reach out beyond the mass media channels familiar from previous decades. The new digital media environment is a ‘hybrid’ system made up of old and new technologies, actors and practices interacting in contingent ways (Chadwick 2011) as well as a domain of cultural production mired in a deep political and economic crisis. This situation demands open-ended, idiosyncratic, and collaborative approaches to public engagement that take into account both the unique affordances of today’s digital technologies and the aftereffects of the 2011 and 2013 waves of social protest around the globe. I exemplify this argument through my experience with four distinct platforms, namely a mailing list, a research blog, Twitter and Facebook, in a range of public contexts.
I asked Mr. French to supply a couple of his clients to talk to me, and at press time he was still trying to find some. “They’re afraid,” he said. “They know that admitting they had paid help — well, one client said to me that dealing with the Wikipedians is like walking into a mental hospital: the floors are carpeted, the walls are nicely padded, but you know there’s a pretty good chance at any given moment one of the inmates will pick up a knife.”
John Postill's insight:
John Postill @JohnPostill 15s
Women's "‘notability’ in the eyes of the young nerdy male #Wikipedia editors" MT @OmanReagan http://sco.lt/75uwXB #gender
The social benefits expected from academia are generally identified as belonging to three broad categories: research, education and contribution to society in general. However, evaluating the present situation of academia according to these criteria reveals a somewhat disturbing phenomenon: an increased pressure to produce articles (in peer-reviewed journals) has created an unbalanced emphasis on the research criterion at the expense of the latter two. More fatally, this pressure has turned academia into a rat race, leading to a deep change in the fundamental structure of academic behaviour, and entailing a self-defeating and hence counter-productive pattern, where more publications is always better and where it becomes increasingly difficult for researchers to keep up with the new research in their field. The article identifies the pressure to publish as a problem of collective action. It ends up by raising questions about how to break this vicious circle and restore a better balance between all three of the social benefits of academia.
When I saw the recent eruption of stories claiming Facebook is “dead and buried to teens” I was at first intrigued, but, once I had read through to their original sources, quickly disappointed – though…...
This new edition of Adam Swift's highly readable introduction to political philosophy includes new material on global justice, feminism, and method in political theory, as well as updated guides to...
John Postill's insight:
"Swift has an accessible writing style which is ideal for an introductory textbook and the structure of the book – examining political philosophy through a series of concepts – is refreshingly original."
Since its creation, Tim Ingold, Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen, has been a great source of inspiration for Allegra (see previous posts: here and here). It is my great pleasure to discuss with him about the future of academic publishing.
As you read the effortless and insightful prose of the luminaries in your discipline, do you ever wonder how they do it? We certainly have, and as part of the Writing Across Boundaries project, we decided to ask them.
We have written to a number of scholars who have made a significant contribution to the social science literature and asked them to write a short piece (500 to 1,500 words) offering their personal reflections on the process of writing. In these pieces, scholars from a variety of social science disciplines share their thoughts, feelings, pearls of wisdom, anecdotes, theoretical musings and much else likely to give insight and inspiration to those in the later stages of doctoral writing.
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