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Centre for Digital Anthropology

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What is new and different about our engagement with digital technologies? Do digital technologies and practices alter or perpetuate existing social relationships, hierarchies and political structures? What does it mean to be off line in a digital age? What kinds of new subjectivities and publics do digital practices bring into being?

The Centre for Digital Anthropology is a leading research hub for the understanding of digital technologies in the rich context of human society and culture. Through teaching, research and a dynamic series of regular events, we encourage a global perspective on the development, structures, and practices of digital technologies. Our researchers work in Trinidad, Peru, Vanuatu, Switzerland, France, Romania, Turkey, Middle East, Brazil, The UK, China, India, Italy and work on social networks, webcams, digital museum collections, big data, digital models, massively multiplayer online role-playing games, with automated work systems, and with mobile phones. 

Digital World Blog

Information and Communication Technology and Wellbeing in the Merchant Marines

Thursday, 01 December 2016

Annamaria Dall’Anese, PhD student, UCL Anthropology

If the informal use of the internet through personal devices on board merchant vessels encounters barriers due to patchy infrastructure and weather issues, then the formal provision of ICT-empowered telemedicine has brought to an end the era when the sea made the ship an entirely isolated environment. The ship in the age of ICT appears as Foucault described it: as a “heterotopia”; a place that is both isolated and penetrable. My interest in merchant marines was sparked by joining a cargo ship sailing from Australia to Singapore as a passenger/English teacher in 2009. The passage, though short, gave me the opportunity to discover the social life of these communities, and I became intrigued by the issue of connectivity at sea.…

#LondonVegans: Deliberating, sensing and practicing vegans in a non-vegan city

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Zachary Hecht, UCL Digital Anthropology Msc Student

Why would somebody forgo juicy steaks, delicate smoked salmon, velvety goat cheese, and the many seemingly delicious foods people eat? Why would somebody choose to submit themselves to the inconvenience of not being able to eat outside of their home without some advanced planning? Why would they refuse to wear products widely seen as fashionable and insist on knowing what their hygiene products are made of?

Why would anybody be vegan?

The individuals I conducted fieldwork with—members of what I term the London Vegan Community—are regularly asked this very question by family, friends, and even strangers. In popular media, veganism is often framed as being trendy and undertaken for supposed health benefits. While many—certainly not all—of my participants discuss health as being a vital component of their veganism, and many first learned about veganism due to its increasing popularity, each of my participants assert that veganism is an “ethical choice”; for London Vegans, veganism is a “social justice movement.”

As I write, we find ourselves living in a time widely referred to as the Anthropocene.…

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