Fri 19 June 2015: Ethics of Circulation Workshop, RMIT EUROPE

Note: The live-tweets from this workshop have been collated in a Storify, here:

This workshop has been constructed as an opportunity to connect the Academic Book of the Future Project to the broader, longstanding anthropological concerns for the ethics of circulating knowledge, in all its forms. In this session, a group of anthropologists will present contemporary projects that explore how local, and academic knowledge, takes form, and moves, both locally and globally. In particular, the shift into new digital media and infrastructures will be unpacked. These are the new social contexts into which academic books increasingly move. We argue that it is necessary to understand local media ecologies, knowledge politics, and ways of consuming information in order to fully project a global future of the book. With case studies that range from US publishing, through to the digital representations of the recent and tragic earthquake in Nepal, we aim to constitute here an ethical framework for understanding the future of the academic book in an expanded frame.  

Programme, abstracts, and speaker bios are all available on this page.


EOC_Schedule_FINAL (pdf)

09:00: Morning Tea

09:30: Welcome (Haidy Geismar & Heather Horst)

09:45: The Ethics of Circulation: An Introduction (Haidy Geismar)

10:15: Mass Digitization, Orphan Works, and the Ethics of Circulation (Mary Murrell)

10:45: Circulating into Uncertainty: the ethics of making public scholarship (Sarah Pink)

11:15: Break

11:30: Uploading the catastrophe: thoughts on fabric, scale and speed in the context of the Nepal earthquake 2015 (Christiane Brosius)

12:00: Crowd prescription and the ethics of digital sharing (Elisenda Ardévol)

12:30: The Temporality of Circulation: Reflections on Living Websites (Heather Horst)

13:00: From Holistic Anthropology to Holistic Dissemination (Daniel Miller)

13:30: Lunch

14:30: Presentation by Rebecca Lyons on The Academic Book of the Future Project

15:00: Discussion

16:00: Break

16:15: Closing Discussion

17:00: End of Symposium

20:00: Dinner

A blog post report was composed and published after the workshop:

Live-Tweets used the event hashtag: #ABFEthics



The Ethics of Circulation: An Introduction, Haidy Geismar

This workshop has been constructed as an opportunity to connect the AHRC Future of the Book project to the broader, to longstanding anthropological concerns for the ethics of circulating knowledge, in all its forms. In this session, a group of anthropologists will present contemporary projects that explore how local, and academic knowledge, takes form, and moves, both locally and globally. In particular, the shift into new digital media and infrastructures will be unpacked. These are the new social contexts into which academic books increasingly move. We argue that it is necessary to understand local media ecologies, knowledge politics, and ways of consuming information in order to fully project a global future of the book. With case studies that range from US publishing, through to the digital representations of the recent and tragic earthquake in Nepal, we aim to constitute here an ethical framework for understanding the future of the academic book in an expanded frame.


I want to start by presenting three vignettes, or frames for understanding the circulation of academic knowledge, many of which intersect with books, variously defined. My intention here, in the presentation of these vignettes in a rough chronology is to highlight how much these questions about the future of academic knowledge and its consumption lie in existing global histories of the exchange and ethical obligations of anthropological knowledge and the production of ethnography. With anthropology’s own iteration of the literary turn in the 1980s, debates about Writing Culture focused on “the poetics and politics of representation.” Many perceived this to be a crisis in representation, underpinning not just the legacy of anthropology as a fundamentally colonial enterprise, but also the interpretive tensions that underpinned our ability to both know and speak for others. This so called crisis of representation, turned our analysis back onto the producer of academic knowledge – recognizing how anthropology, and anthropologists, were present, if not also the salient subjects, of ethnographic documents. However, I want to turn away from this sense of crisis towards the enhanced ethics that it has engendered. If we have to be careful of our own location within both the representational fields we construct and also the forms of ethnographic knowledge that they produce, then rather than end in a dead end of cultural relativism where it sits for many, I prefer to focus on how this representational crisis has been productive for thinking through our own ethical obligations to represent responsibly, and collaboratively.


Mass Digitization, Orphan Works, and the Ethics of Circulation , Mary Murrell


Anthropologists have of late become especially interested in the built networks or infrastructures that undergird modern societies, encouraging attention to these “architecture[s] for circulation” that hide in plain sight (Larkin 2008; 2013). Less attention has been paid to the infrastructures by which we produce, share, preserve, and circulate knowledge: the institutions, forms, discourses and materialities that support and structure how humans come to know things—and yet such matters are no less infrastructural than the roadways, electrical grids, and water systems. This neglect is unfortunate since, today, infrastructures of knowledge production and dissemination are being reconfigured and cast anew as problems, both inside and outside the academy. My research looks at one particular flashpoint in these broader processes: the mass digitization of books.


At the beginning of the 1990s, a confluence of interest in the US among Internet entrepreneurs, computer engineers, research libraries, and the state wove together two long-standing techno-cultural preoccupations — 1) the possibility that machines could compress recorded information into dynamic and miniaturized libraries, a la Vannevar Bush’s Memex; and, 2) that the limitations of printed books were an obstacle to progress — into a new trope: the digital library. In the early 2000s, projects began in earnest to digitize books on an entirely new scale, seeming to accomplish these long-deferred dreams. Most famously, Google declared in 2004 that it intended to digitize “all books in all languages.” The site of my fieldwork, the Internet Archive, soon thereafter launched—with funding from libraries, foundations, and Google competitors—a public alternative to Google’s private library. Among those involved in the mass digitization of books, I identified a pervasive conviction: that the book is “closed” and needs to be made “open.” Rendered inaccessible by their materiality (their printedness), by the institutions that store and keep them (physical libraries), and by the state’s often misguided regulation (copyright), books are simultaneously cherished and found in need of urgent remediation. Digitizers—technologists, librarians, university administrators, lawyers, advocates—are futurists, adapting the book as they invent libraries of the future.


For my contribution to the Ethics of Circulation workshop, I will discuss mass digitization as a property contest—or, to be more precise, as an extended inquiry into the book as a form of property. In particular, I will discuss one particularly knotty issue within that property contest: the problem of what has become known as “orphan books” (and orphan works, more generally). The term has various meanings but, generally, it indicates the problem that arises when a would-be digitizer—a library, an archive, or a company such as Google—confronts copyrighted works whose owners are not identifiable or locatable. If there is no one to ask permission of, the digitizer faces the decision to use the work without authorization, risking stiff penalties should the owner come forward later, or not to digitize the work at all. The problem is not new: people have long had difficulties finding the owners of copyrighted materials, especially older works. But changes to U.S. copyright law in recent years, especially the Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, have greatly exacerbated it. But it was mass book digitization that brought “orphans” to the national (and international) stage in the 2000s.


In my talk, I will discuss (briefly!) how people at the Internet Archive helped to shape the “orphan problem” in three involvements—the Federal lawsuit Kahle v. Gonzalez; in Orphan Works legislation before the US Congress; and in the Google Book Search Settlement. Although each of these efforts failed, and although some legal scholars have called for the abandonment of the orphan metaphor, I argue that it is precisely in its failure at the national level that the orphan metaphor has done its true work. The response to these failures has been a retreat into a “best practices” approach that depends less on legal formality and more on specific, ad hoc, and often experimental approaches to finding appropriate, “respectful” ways to make things part of public, digital archives.


Adrian Johns has recently called the orphan problem “the single most debilitating problem for the entire enterprise of massive open digital libraries.” Although I don’t disagree with that assessment, I also want to see orphans as a productive metaphor of relation. Anthropologists have since the 1990s turned renewed attention to the concept of property, and intensifying contests around property. For good reason, most anthropological attention has been paid to new property objects and new processes of propertization—the patenting of life forms; the privatization of natural resources; the appropriation of indigenous knowledge or traditional cultural expression; and new forms of intellectual property such as computer software. Activism behind “orphans,” in contrast, works through one of the hoariest of commodity forms—the book—in an attempt to temper intellectual property ownership in digital environments. Playing with the long history of the metaphor of the book as child (and the author as its father), activists deploy the metaphor of book as an orphan in order to undo that relation: not to fortify but to diminish the rights of the author-father, and to establish new potential “parents” in place of the neglectful/ absent one.

The orphan book problem thus implicitly asks a series of important questions, among them: Who cares in this time and place about these particular cultural artifacts? What other terms and forms of relation might better serve the goals of digital archives than those provided by current copyright? How might the proliferation of new digital archives push us to consider new conceptions of “publicness” and the social relations therein?



Circulating into Uncertainty: the ethics of making public scholarship, Sarah Pink


This paper is set in a contemporary context where academics are increasingly encouraged to do work that will have ‘impact’ in the world. At the same time, there are scholars and researchers, amongst whom I place myself who have turned towards applied scholarship because we believe that the relationship between theoretical scholarship and applied and interventional practice in the world is generative and useful. Putting the anthropological critiques of the ‘impact agenda’ aside, while not forgetting them, in this paper I explore the meaning of this context in relation to ethics of publication beyond the book.


I develop this through two related themes, with reference to my own work in which I often use video ethnography and experimental and interventional methods. I also combine conventional academic writing and publishing, with non-conventional documentary video and online public dissemination methods.


First, I discuss what I call ‘layered ethics’, which is a research and publication process through which participants are engaged with the project or materials beyond the research encounter, to the extent they wish to be. This might involve participants initially choosing from a range of options regarding the way their materials will be used and published during the research and dissemination process. It might involve their reviewing of materials at different stages during the project. For instance, just after their production, as selections or clips to approve their publication online or elsewhere. The idea behind this approach to ethics is to ensure that participants make informed decisions about their materials step by step. It also has the benefit of sometimes engaging participants in the research process in interesting ways that generate new insights that would not have been possible without the re-viewing and discussion of research materials with them. At the same time, I would add that the ethics of participatory research are sometimes hard to achieve because participants might not be interested in engaging with research processes and materials beyond what they already expect. While researchers remain involved in projects, materials and in considering the experiences of participants in depth and for prolonged periods of time, sometimes for participants these are just short moments in their lives that are soon forgotten or thought of as irrelevant. I discuss how this was developed in the course of a series of projects, about Slow Cities, Energy in Homes and Occupational Safety and Health.


Second I discuss the ethics of making public. There are two dimensions of this, the first relates to the process of ‘layered ethics’, whereby the possibility to opt in or out of public dissemination of video materials is part of the process. The other is the ethics of turning applied scholarship into public scholarship. If by preparing our applied work for wider audiences we might make a further impact in the world through public scholarship, is there a duty or opportunity to do this that should be exercised. To what extent might this be shared with research participants, or not? And what means are there available for us to be involved in making our work public in such ways that it will reach beyond the conventional audiences of our work? Do we know enough about these audiences to be able to reach them? Here I discuss three public text, image and video-based public dissemination exercises, the Energy and Digital Living Web Site, the documentary film Laundry Lives and the Un/Certainty iBook.


To sum up I bring together these two elements – the role of participants in deciding what we will do with their materials, having the opportunity to approve our uses, once these uses become clearer. And the roles that we might have as applied scholars making public interventions through our work. Each of these elements has a further implication for the ways in which we conceptualise the ethics of academic-applied-public scholarship: that is it invites us to engage anew with the forms of generative and productive uncertainty that always (or at least I think should) underpin our work. Both of these activities overtly recognizes the point that we do not know exactly how we will want to use research materials when we ask participants to first sign consent forms – or even exactly what these materials will consist of, and that we do not know what others will do with these when we make them available. Therefore inherent in the proposals I am making is both a critique of the anticipatory logics of prevention that inhabit most institutional ethical approval processes. This leads a call for a new open ethics, which is as shared and collaborative as research can be and that accommodates the possibilities and potentials of the applied and public forms of research and scholarship that the impact agenda suggests is possible.


Uploading the catastrophe: thoughts on fabric, scale and speed in the context of the Nepal earthquake 2015, Christiane Brosius


On April 24 my husband and I, having returned from 5 months of fieldwork in Kathmandu a month earlier, received an sms while driving on the highway in Bavaria: “Dear all, it has been reported that there was a big earthquake of 7.5 rector scale in Kathmandu today. It was felt many times for half an hour. We are trying to reach to our family and relatives via phone but it seems phone is not working at the moment. I will be updating more. Best, Rajan”. It took a while until the message from a young Nepali researcher working with us in Heidelberg tickled down. Thereafter, the scale and speed of the earthquake reached us through various media channels, and in various qualities or ways, almost as if they were the extension of the aftershock, in mediated waves. After managing to call a few friends and relatives by phone, and magically finding that all of them were still alive, albeit many in a state of shock, assembling outside their damaged or collapsed houses or offices, we lost touch again. Batteries faded, the whole telecommunication system broke down. No electricity for hours in Nepal, nothing special in that country, but in this case longer than ever experienced. Social media helped us to puzzle together a mosaic, on our screen, in our minds, of the scale of the disaster. We still do as we try to come to terms with the effects, on a personal and on an academic level – both intertwined since many friends are informants and colleagues.


This paper, evolving from the experience of participating in an apocalyptic scenery that has been one’s research field and home, from afar, tries to reflect on the nature of digital communication, social relations, space and time at an endless moment of catastrophe that shifts points of orientation and knowledge production, connectivity to space, people and memories, to the making of ties through facebook. It follows several approaches, not all of which can be addressed in the presentation but hopefully in a more elaborated work (maybe NOT a paper but another genre of academic ‘writing’). It will try to contemplate how and what kind of knowledge is constituted and circulated in moments of high speed, how this is connected to hope, fear, despair or humor. This paper will thus also try to reflect on the rhizomatic fabric of an event such as a natural catastrophe spread in and through the social media (and to some extent, TV, radio, but much less), shaping a topography that invites anthropologists to consider scale, speed, and space, as well as fabric and repository/archive.


  1. Social agents and networks. How has my research field impacted my knowledge and perception of the earthquake? Throughout, some of my key informants from the contemporary art scene and my research on ageing have provided me with their view of the earthquake and its aftermath. However, new ones have also joined into a new community of people engaging in information exchange, production of a language of hope (and despair), moments of mourning and doubts (least on their side). Their ways of dealing by reporting, documenting, engaging in direct humanitarian help, is relevant for my reflections here, as much as the different qualities of communication (personal message, posting in restricted facebook groups, sharing, liking, etc.). But one thing that I am definitely missing out, which is, however, crucial, is the offline activities, and I would argue there is a huge asymmetry that must be considered; and the fact that they engage with someone (me) physically absent from the site of experience and action. One particular issue that interests me here is that of the spread of information, particularly of rumors (e.g., of thugs stealing the ancient statues; media persons abusing their power, water being poisoned), particularly in the first days after the earthquake.


  1. Space and place. As the earthquake made whole neighborhoods collapse, dozens of temples and shrines, the urban landscape of Kathmandu was turned upside down. I want to explore how this is articulated in words and images/video. Interesting for me is the relationship to place from the perspective of onlookers with no proximity to Kathmandu, and people directly affected and familiar with the places, which says much about intangible heritage and social networks. Chains of images posted – and shared – in personal photo-albums on facebook are telling of this.


  1. Archive, memory and the future. Countless tactics of reporting and reflecting on the incident have emerged on facebook since April 2015, archival footage of the collapsed temples (much of which is named as UNESCO world heritage), and houses, the victims and helpers, again, there is a difference between the documents shared and produced by commercial media (often Getty, and very iconic, e.g. of people saved from under the rubble, or damaged deities fallen off roofs), and by private persons (posting photos taken with their smartphones, for instance, of the shelters, or them eating, and waiting). Several initiatives have been founded as email lists or on facebook to take stock of the tangible heritage that could be secured, information about theft and protection, earthquake-safe reconstruction and the role of cultural heritage vis-à-vis humanitarian help are debated intensely. All this is closely related to how archives from the past can now help rebuild a ‘future’ for Nepal. I particularly pay attention to one case study: the small, and almost completely destroyed ‘heritage’ town Bungamati, for which we have also set up a relief fund (among other projects).


  1. Catastrophic knowledge. The last step taken in this paper shall explore how one can proceed with the publication of these data, and sketch some challenges, also based on previous exercises undertaken in our Centre. This concerns some preliminary thoughts about a ‘database’ initiative planned with two Nepali colleagues, a sociologist and an artist.


Crowd prescription and the ethics of digital sharing , Elisenda Ardévol


I want to centre my discussion around the issue of crowdsourcing prescription and practices for sharing as two important and related aspects of the ethics of digital circulation of knowledge production in the field of Anthropology. For my presentation I will draw on my own experience as a scholar of a non-English speaking country in Europe and my actual practices on writing, sharing and reading academic objects to examine how digitization shape these practices. For doing so, I will situate “circulation” in the context of the “circle of culture” developed by Stuart Hall (1997), as it puts emphasis in a holistic approach to the circulation of cultural products. In his “circle”, Hall takes into account the circulatory aspect of culture, especially how regulatory practices are interconnected with collective identities (and communities) and complex production and consumption processes. I totally agree with the rationale of this workshop that the debates about benefits and problems of open access, digital books, e-reading, and intellectual property need to be placed in situated contexts and that the communities of readers, scholars and other communities of practice shall participate in delineating the “ethos” of cultural production and circulation. Focusing on “circulation” we stress the movement of anthropological objects, that is: how they are shared and how the sharing is formally and informally regulated. Here of course, comes into play the debate about intellectual property and copyrights of the digital objects such as e-books, online multimedia products, archives and repositories, but also the way we share these digital and digitized objects. In this regard, I argue that prescription is a highlighting figure insofar it is a part of our sharing practices that is experimenting a complex system of digitalization defined by its crowdsourcing nature (Poblet, 2015). Think about peers’ prescription practices through social media (twitter, facebook, blogs) academic social media (, ResearchGate, Mendeley, Zotero) and other forms of prescription included in online bookstores such as Amazon or more broadly in online Journals. Some digital forms of peer prescription are based on traditional ways of doing such as books reviews in academic journals or in academic collective and individual blogs. In that sense, we can say that also twitter and facebook are primarily based in the scholar’s recommendations. However, there are increasingly digital automatized systems to produce prescriptions based on people’s online behaviour such as “Customers who bought this item also bought…” (Amazon), “Readership Statistics” (Mendeley), “newsfeed” and “suggested researchers” (, etc. These are prescriptions models based on BigData analysis and personalisation algorithms. Thus, I wonder whether the research community should have a voice in developing this big data ethics of digital circulation.


The Temporality of Circulation: Reflections on Living Websites , Heather Horst


The ethnographic monograph has long been a staple of anthropology, one that has played an important role in not only disseminating research but has also been viewed as a requirement – if not rite of passage for anthropologists seeking to consolidate their career in the academy. Yet, the form and function of of ethnographic monograph continues to change over time. From the monographs associated with ‘armchair anthropology’, detailed descriptions of society and culture informed by participant observation and lengthy fieldwork to the writing culture turn which spurred reflection and experimentation, the ethnographic monograph has moved from an encyclopedia of static cultures with structures ‘economies’, ‘households’ and ‘religion’ to one that explores diverse forms of knowledge production, largely in textual form. Increasingly, however, the ethnographic monograph sits alongside a range of other forms of dissemination, representation and engagement.

In this talk I consider the consequences of these different formats for the kinds of ethics of circulation and representation at stake in today’s knowledge economy. To do so I will be discussing an ongoing research project I am carrying out with Robert Foster, “The Moral and Cultural Economy of Mobile Phones in the Pacific”. Funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant, the threeyear study investigates how companies, consumers and states shape the social consequences of new digital technologies. Like many other projects, one of our first postbureaucratic acts as a ‘funded project’ has involved the development of a project website. The “Moral Economy Pacific” website is envisioned not just as a space to legitimize our project or share interim findings. We also view it as a space through which to publicly document the history of mobile telecommunications in two countries that have previously received little attention. Through this, we also wish to make public the many documents, advertisements, videos and other resources. Because we imagine our key ‘audience’ for this aspect of the site will be Pacific students and scholars, we commissioned a researchdriven web company to develop the website for accessibility by relatively low bandwith computers as well as through a mobilefriendly interface.


Yet, developing the project website has produced two core tensions that challenge the ethics of circulation associated with anthropological practice and the ethnographic monograph. The first tension is between our ethnographic orientation to dynamism and change and the ways that developing a website – even one more oriented to the form and content of mobile technologies the project examines sits against the need for categories and structures in the design of a website. The second tension revolves around the temporality of representation, particularly given the website’s visibility with telecommunications companies, state agents and other public figures operating in a politically charged arena. How might we understand the different temporalities at play in the circulation of ethnographic knowledge? And how might we view the relationship between the ethics of circulation that guide contemporary forms of the ethnographic monograph and the forms of ethnographic engagement occurring through websites and other digital media technologies?


From Holistic Anthropology to Holistic Dissemination , Daniel Miller


The question I want to pose is whether there might be a specific ethic of circulation that is directly attributable to a specific ethic of anthropology. Recently Ingold and others have questioned the centrality of ethnography to the discipline of anthropology, but I would want to actually raise rather than lower its status and therefore welcome projects called Digital Ethnography alongside those of Digital Anthropology. But much depends on the definition of ethnography.


In a collaborative book we are writing for our project I use the term `holistic contextualisation’. While we start with an object of study – in this case social media, our premise is that we simply don’t know what factors in people’s lives will influence or be influenced by social media. It might be gender, religion, work or family. Furthermore none of these can be isolated to make statistical correlations, because in real life they are not isolated. A real person on any day in their life confronts these and a multitude of other factors simultaneously. They are a woman, a Hindu, a mother, a factory worker, an introvert, a lover of soap opera and a devotee of Bollywood film stars on Facebook – all at the same time. No one lives inside a topic of research. Holistic contextualisation means that everything people do is the context for everything else they do. Being a female is the context for the way one conducts Hindu prayer, which in turn provides the cosmological basis for understanding what for that person it means to be a female.


Despite this we have generally been quite conservative in our modes of dissemination. There have been many innovations but these tend to be particular new ventures rather than thinking about dissemination as a whole. My particular problem with the book came from visiting all the nine fieldwork sites of our current project. The writing of the team was often of excellent standard even at the time of fieldwork, nevertheless visiting the site was always a revelation. So clearly however good the book was going to be, readers were missing out by being unable to visit. We therefore decided to all make ten films as well as writing. We also recognise there are hundreds of papers about posting on social media in many journals which contain not a single visual illustration even though for some societies most postings are visual. So all our books have a chapter which is replete with visual illustrations. But again these are specific problems and solutions.


From the perspective of this workshop we need something different, a commitment to holistic dissemination on a par with ethnography itself. What I mean by this is that we employ a wide range of different forms of dissemination that are intended to be complementary to each other to create something which transcends them all. So in our dissemination we have no intention of replacing books by something else. Instead we want to embed the book as an object in an ecology of dissemination which occupies more niches than Darwin’s finches.


So far we seem to be committed to eleven books (subject to peer review) including monographs, comparative books and collaborative books. We have chapters which are the same across the range and ones that differ. So even the book is no longer an isolated unit but one part of a larger structure. We have a popular website, that is truly popular in that we hope to announce our `discoveries’ through cat memes. But which also includes links to our hundred films and new ways of showing anthropological generalisations based on statements which are then questioned and illustrated by the nine different sites. We also will create a MOOC, but once again with a variety of ways of conveying information. We hope to have filmed discussions that show us all in debate, short headshot lectures, if we can afford it animations, powerpoints with discussion, filmed discussion of readings and of our films, interactive exercises and suggestions for peer collaborations and other elements beside. Also we will try and produce all the MOOC and website in all the languages of our project. Everything from MOOC to website and the books will be free and Open Access. The whole will be accompanied by social media, an encouragement to interactivity, learning from the experience of Sheba Mohammid in Trinidad the `connected learning’ group and others.


We have absolutely no idea which of these might be effective and for which audiences. Our strategy is the opposite of the usual recommendation to first determine your audience and then work to that. Instead the ethos is that of ethnography. If you don’ know the relevant factors/audience which might be important, just go out there open to anything and everything with the aim of matching depth to breadth. If there is anything in the kitchen sink we have left out and have the capacity to include by 4th February 2016 please feel free to suggest it.


Speaker Bios


Elisenda Ardévol is Associate Professor in Social Anthropology at the Department of Arts and Humanities, at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and director of mediaccions Digital Culture Research Group at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute in Barcelona. She participates in different Master and Phd. Programs in media, digital and visual anthropology and has been Visiting Scholar at the Visual Anthropology Centre of the University of Southern California and EU Centre Visiting Fellow at the Digital Ethnography Centre at the RMIT, Melbourne. She is also an active member of international research networks such as the Media Anthropology Network and the Future Anthropology Network of the EASA (European Association of Social Anthropologists) and the Section of Digital Culture and Communication ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association). Her main research lines are related with digital culture, visuality and media in everyday life. Currently, she is exploring design, creativity and collaborative practices in digital technologies. Her publications include “Digital ethnography and media practices” in Darling Wolf, Research Methods in Media Studies; “Virtual/Visual Ethnography: Methodological Crossroads at the Intersection of Visual and Internet Research” in Pink, Advances in Visual Methodology (2012); Playful practices; Theorising new media cultural production in Brauchler and Postill, Theorising Media and Practice (2010); editor of Researching Media through Practices (2009) and the books (in Spanish) Key debates (2014); A Gaze’s Quest (2006) and Representation and Audiovisual Culture in Contemporary Societies (2004).



Christiane Brosius holds the new Professorship of Visual and Media Anthropology at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” ( at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. With a background in Art History and Art Education, she became interested in contexts of art production, dissemination and consumption. For her M.A. thesis, Christiane researched and published on the German cultural historian Aby Warburg who developed the ‘Mnemosyne Image Atlas’, which had an impact on Tasveer Ghar’s focus on popular culture and image itineraries. For her book Empowering Visions. A Study on Videos and the Politics of Cultural Nationalism in India (London: Anthem Press 2005), Brosius explored the iconography, rhetoric and production context of video propaganda of the Hindu Right (especially late 1980s to 1990s). Her other research interests are “ritual agency,” urban anthropology, diaspora studies and commercial Hindi film. Her latest book is India’s Middle Class. New Forms of Urban Leisure, Consumption and Prosperity (Routledge, New Delhi, 2010). It carries ethnographic case studies about urban architecture and town-planning, heritage tourism and spiritualism, and lifestyle specialists and magazines. Currently, Christiane is working on the globalised imaginary of Valentine’s Day and the visualisation of romantic love.



Haidy Geismar is Reader in Anthropology and co-director of the Centre for Digital Anthropology at University College London. Her research is focused on the circulation of knowledge in material and digital form with a specific focus on the circulation of anthropological knowledge and museum collections in the south Pacific and the attendant emergence of new intellectual and cultural property regimes. She has written extensively on the reception and circulation of historic anthropological texts, photographs and artefacts between Europe and Vanuatu. Her 2010 book, Moving Images, co-authored with curators in Cambridge and Vanuatu, was the winner of the 2012 Collier Prize offered by the Society for Visual Anthropology. Her most recent book is Treasured Possessions: Indigenous Interventions in Intellectual and Cultural Property, published under a creative commons license by Duke University Press in 2013. She is current editor of the Journal of Material Culture and founding editor of the popular weblog Material World (


Heather Horst is the Director of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre and a Principal Research Fellow in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University. An anthropologist by training, Heather’s research focuses upon understanding how digital media, technology and other forms of material culture mediate relationships, communication, learning, mobility and our sense of being human. Her books examining these themes include The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (Horst and Miller, Berg, 2006), Living and Learning with Digital Media: Findings from the Digital Youth Project (Ito, Horst, et al., 2009, MIT Press), and Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with Digital Media (Ito, et al. 2010, MIT Press), Digital Anthropology (Horst and Miller, Eds., 2012, Berg) and Digital Ethnography: Principles and Practices (Pink, Horst, et al., Forthcoming 2015, Sage). Her current research explores transformations in the telecommunications industry and the emergence of new mobile media practices such as mobile money and locative media across the Asia-Pacific region.


Daniel Miller is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at University College London, UK and an Adjunct Professor of Media and Communication at RMIT University (2013-2016). He has published 35 books including Digital Anthropology (with H. Horst, eds, Berg, 2012), Tales from Facebook (Polity Press, 2011), Migration and New Media: Transnationalism and Polymedia (with M. Madianou, Routledge, 2011), The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (with H. Horst, Berg, 2006) and The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach (with Don Slater, Berg, 2000). Other recent books include Blue Jeans (with S. Woodward, University of California Press, 2011), Consumption and Its Consequences (Polity Press, 2012) Stuff (Polity Press, 2009) and Webcam (with Jolynna Sinanan, Polity Press 2014). Professor Miller has received numerous honours in recognition to his contribution to anthropology, including the Henry Lewis Morgan Lectures (the most prestigious lecture series in Anthropology) and the Rivers Memorial Medal awarded by the Royal Anthropological Institute. He is also an Elected Fellow of the British Academy. He and a team of anthropologists are currently carrying out a five-year study of social media funded by the European Research Council.


Mary Murrell is a Lecturer and Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is at work on a manuscript entitled “The Open Book: An Anthropologist in the Digital Library.” The work is based on fieldwork she did from 2008-2011 at the Internet Archive in San Francisco, CA, a non-profit digital library involved in the mass digitization of books and related advocacy. Tracing the emergence, practices, and productive effects of mass digitization, she allows its controversies to bring “the book” into view macroscopically not simply as a material object or technology but also as a peopled social complex, a “cultural form” in a particular place (the US) and in a particular time (the early 21st century). Mary received her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. Her research has received support from a National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Andrew H. Mellon Foundation, among others. Before pursuing her Ph.D. Mary worked for many years as an acquisitions editor, in anthropology and other fields, at Princeton University Press. She is currently Publishing Consultant to the newly open access AAA journal Cultural Anthropology; and she is on the Advisory Board of the digital publishing platform Project Muse.


Sarah Pink is Professor of Design and Media Ethnography at RMIT University, Australia. Most of her work is international and interdisciplinary. She is Visiting Professor at the Swedish Centre for Applied Cultural Analysis in Halmstad University, Sweden, and to the Schools of Design and Civil and Building Engineering at Loughborough University, UK and Guest Professor at the Free University, Berlin. Her books include Doing Sensory Ethnography (2nd edition 2015), Doing Visual Ethnography (3rd edition 2013) and Situating Everyday Life (2012). Forthcoming books include Digital Ethnography: principles and practices (co-authored, 2015) and Media, Anthropology and Public Engagement (co-edited, 2015), Digital Materiality: anthropology and design (co-edited) and Making Homes (co-authored). She directed the Energy and Digital Living web site (2014) http://, and co-directed the film Laundry Lives (2015). She is also experimenting in the publication of ibooks, and her co-authored Un/Certainty (2015) will be available through the Design+Ethnography+Futures web site at Her current and recent research is funded by a range of research councils and industry partners including the EPSRC (UK), EU Horizon 2020 (EU), the ARC (Australia), the RJ Foundation (Sweden) and Unilever (UK).

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