Culture Goes Online: Introduction to Digital Anthropology


How do online phenomena like QAnon and "cancel culture" become salient cultural forces "in real life"? Can new apps, intelligent algorithms, and cryptocurrencies solve longstanding social and economic problems? What happens to the data produced by "smart" homes and appliances? Did memes decide the 2016 presidential election? Has the pace of technological development outstripped our collective ability to make sense of digital technologies and the social worlds they bring into being? Over the past three decades, digital technologies have become powerfully present in social and political life. They offer dazzling possibilities: connecting people and communities across distance and time, expanding our abilities to perceive the world and record our experiences, and producing and processing astonishingly huge quantities of data. They also raise important questions about privacy, ethics, and governance. Proponents of digital technologies celebrate them as great equalizers that create more opportunities for democratic engagement, while critics express concern that they open the door for new forms of inequality and exploitation. This course will examine these and other problems through an anthropological lens, asking how we can think analytically about culture and politics in the digital age. We'll engage with scholarship, journalism, and artistic productions, from the first digital ethnographies to recent, interdisciplinary and methodologically innovative multimedia works. Topics will include social media, the political uses (and abuses) of digital technology, "big data" and digital surveillance, digital technology and sustainability, and internet infrastructure, access, and inequality.
Course Attributes: AS HUM; AS LCD; FA HUM; AR HUM; AS SSC; EN S

Section 01

Culture Goes Online: Introduction to Digital Anthropology
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