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Accepted Paper:

Collaborative ethnography in the digital age: Towards a new methodological framework  


Monika Palmberger (University of Vienna)
Philipp Budka (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

This paper strives to open up a discussion for a novel methodological framework by critically exploring explicit collaborative ethnographic research in times of increasingly personalized digital communication and interaction.

Paper long abstract:

Even though media and digital anthropology have the potential to dig deep into mediated social relations, ethnographic fieldwork and especially the relationship between ethnographers and research partners need to be rethought to meet the research challenges of an increasingly digitalized world. We are currently facing pressing methodological (including ethical) questions: How can we do participant observation when communication and interaction are increasingly 'individualized' and veiled due to digital technologies, particularly the smartphone? How can we meet arising issues concerning confidentiality and intimacy? How can we reach towards explicit collaborative research and the continuous inclusion of research partners throughout the research process? And what collaborative forms of collecting, interpreting and representing empirical data do we aspire for? We will discuss these questions by drawing on case studies from our fieldwork on the role and consequences of digital communication media in the contexts of refugee experiences in Austria and indigenous engagements in Canada. In doing so, and by critically reflecting upon conceptual approaches such as 'collaborative ethnography' (Lassiter, 2005) and 'decolonizing methodologies' (Smith, 1999), we aim to open up a discussion for a new methodological framework that is grounded in explicit collaborative ethnographic research in digital times. We thus provide a necessary methodological perspective for the project of an engaged media anthropology.

Panel P015
Engaged media anthropology in the digital age [Media Anthropology Network]