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Digital research infrastructures in social and cultural anthropology: approaches and challenges for conducting, archiving and sharing research
Andrea Scholz (Ethnological Museum Berlin)
Wolfgang Kraus (University of Vienna)
Sabine Imeri (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Matthias Harbeck (UB der Humboldt-Universität)
Elisabeth Huber (University of Bremen)
Wednesday 22 July, 8:30-10:30 (UTC+1)

Short abstract:

This panel addresses the debate about challenges and implications of digitisation and datafication in ethnographic research, by taking into account digital tools and services for social and cultural anthropologists that are currently under way.

Long abstract:

The "Digital Age" has an impact on ethnographic research: methods and tools, fields of research, publishing and access to literature have all been notably transformed over the last twenty years. Digitisation projects and open access initiatives in libraries and museums offer literature and digitised collections - ideally without barriers, yet often with restrictions -, also allowing computational processing, e.g. text and data mining. Collaboration, co-curating, and co-publishing over vast distances is now manageable via online databases and virtual labs or research environments, not only between colleagues in the academic field, but also with (former) research participants, thus offering new possibilities for collaborative research. Fieldwork is supported by smartphones, computers, and other digital equipment as well as social media applications.

The discussion on these radical transformations is just beginning in anthropology. An overview on resources and developments, possibilities and challenges is missing so far. The debate on digital humanities is still mostly disconnected from anthropology. The panel aims at provoking a broad debate on the current state of 'digital anthropology', its difficulties and possible futures by (1) discussing digital tools and platforms explicitly developed for research in social and cultural anthropology, by (2) presenting services for archiving and sharing research data, and by (3) considering legal and ethical aspects of long-term preservation, creating access to, and governing the re-use of research data.

We invite contributions on digital solutions for research infrastructures and important digital resources for anthropology, as well as critical reflections on the use of digital data and tools and their methodological, epistemological, ethical and legal implications.