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Accepted Paper:

Broaching Synoptic Illusions: The paradoxes of Multimedia engaged ethnography engaging both studied communities and varied audiences.  
Jay Sokolovsky (University of South Florida St. Petersburg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the possibilities and limitations of multimedia based ethnographies going beyond synoptic illusions involving the cultural context of late life. It examines this through a video ethnography of community gardens in New York City and a multimedia enabled ethnography set in Mexico.

Paper long abstract:

With the meme "O.K. Boomer" penetrating the social media worlds of old and young alike it provoked me to explore how multimedia ethnography might broach this dilemma of synoptic illusions. As perceived by Pierre Bourdieu, "synoptic illusions," condense a great deal of actual heterogeneity with simple, ideal statements that stand in for a more complex whole. In exploring late life, I examines in two projects the extent to which multimedia data, visual and otherwise, can work with ethnographic text to supersede the synoptic limitations of either the written word or video presented by themselves in trying to represent cultural reality.

Here I rethink two long-term ethnographic projects which explore the roles of older adults in changing social landscapes. One is a decade in the making video ethnography focusing on community gardens in New York City and another comprises a multimedia-enabled ethnographic book trying to encompass over four decades of change and the impact of globalization in a Mexican Indigenous community. In making the multimedia materials available to the subject communities I will discuss how varied and sometimes very conflicted reactions to these materials illuminate the underlying complexity of elder persons in changing cultural contexts.

These efforts will be counterposed with the advantages of exciting new projects such as the interactive transmedia project "Elderscapes: Ageing in Urban South Asia and the multisited ASSA Project - Anthropology of Smart Phones and Smart Aging, working in a collaborative, social-media-enabled framework.

Panel P060
Illuminating Futures of the Life Course through Visual and Digital Media [Age and Generations Network]