Accepted paper:

An ethnography of young people`s gender negotiations in everyday digital peer cultures in Chile


Irene Arends (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

This paper proposal contributes to the exploration of the digital turn in anthropology by showing how combining digital and in-person ethnography can shed light on how young people give meaning to, and negotiate, their gender and sexuality by using social media.

Paper long abstract:

Young people have always searched -and found- ways to hang out with their peers (in streets, malls, clubs, bedrooms), and in doing so constitute their gender and sexual peer cultures. Nowadays, youth´s number one hangout spot is social media. It is here that the magnitude with which they constantly relate to each other is strongly amplified. By posting, liking, sharing and commenting in digital cultures, social media are constantly mediating gendered recognition. To understand these practices, I focus on what various gender enactments (e.g. 'sexy selfies', sex, love and relationship talk, sharing nudes, showing affection and the body) can tell us about the constantly shifting boundaries of femininities and masculinities; how the meaning of gender is inflicted by sexuality and vice versa; and what this does to inter- and cross gender relations. As a contribution to this panel on the digital turn in anthropology I will however not focus on the results of my research per se. Instead, I will thoroughly scrutinize the research process and show how theoretical insights often stem from methodology. I will use examples of my feminist informed ethnographical account of everyday digital youth cultures in Chile to illustrate this.

panel P067
The digital turn: new directions in media anthropology [Media Anthropology Network]