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Remote Ethnography as Mediated Ethnography: Chances and Dangers under and beyond Covid-19 
Britta Ohm (University of Heidelberg)
Ting-Fai Yu (French Centre for Research on Contemporary China)
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Peter Froggatt Centre (PFC), 02/025
Friday 29 July, -
Time zone: Europe/London

Short Abstract:

This Roundtable wants to discuss remote ethnography as mediated ethnography, reflecting and exploring the chances, complications, problems and outright dangers that (have) come with medially/digitally connecting with our fields (or with failing to do so).

Long Abstract:

With the conditions enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic, 'remote ethnography' has seen a sudden surge not only in anthropology but across disciplines that have come to engage ethnographic methods. Even though the term - and practice - had gained traction well before (then often under the pressure to justify itself), the restrictions on physical mobility and local presence under the pandemic have lent it unexpected validation, even elevated it to a panacea. What has so far remained under attended, though, is that 'remote ethnography' conceals its intrinsic relationship with media and information technologies. In fact, as working 'remotely' is inherently dependent on bridging, if not erasing the very remoteness in its name, media make the ever more capacious transition from being subjects of exploration to becoming indispensable means of research also for scholars whose fields of study appear to be 'remote' from media.

Themes and questions offering themselves for critical debate include, for instance, the reduction of the 'ethnographic gaze' (during on-site observation or visual documentation), but equally the risk of sidelining a critical perspective on media technologies themselves, the problem of enhanced media-centrism, i.e. the further normalising of both media access and media use, and reinforced inequalities in the safety of researcher and informants. Under globally precarious political conditions, moreover, the data traces we leave and who might have access to these data (tech-corps, governments, para-state units) throw up the question of a long-term altogether changing research field and practice.

Accepted contributions:

Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -