Digital Anthropology Fellows:
Our Digital Anthropology Fellows are scholars working in a variety of disciplines and places who are both part of our extended network and who spend time regularly at UCL. During this time they often hold research seminars and workshops for students.
- Prof Dominic Boyer, Cornell University
- Dr Stefana Broadbent
- Dr Lane DeNicola, Emory University
- Dr Heather Horst, Digital Ethnography Research Centre, RMIT
- Dr Fernando Dominguez Rubio, University of California, San Diego
- Dr Antonia Walford, CRESC, The Open University
- Dr Marion Hamm, University of Graz
- Katja Muller, Center for Interdisciplinary Area Studies, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. In residence at the Centre for Digital Anthropology February-March 2017
- Elisabetta Costa
- Juliano Spyer
- Jolynna Sinanen
- Shriram Venkatraman
- Tom Macdonald
- Răzvan Nicolescu
- Xinyuan Wang
- Nadia El Mbarat
Haidy Geismar has a PhD in Anthropology and Material Culture from UCL (2003). She has long term fieldwork experience in both the South Pacific and within museums, in the Pacific, North America and Europe where she has worked both with South Pacific and with photography collections. She is particularly interested in issues of intellectual and cultural property and how digital technologies are reorganizing knowledge systems within museums. Recently she has been researching the digitization of cultural collections, the incorporation of indigenous protocols into museum databases and she is in the early stages of a book looking at new practices and forms of digital photography. Dr. Geismar is also founder and chief editor of the Material World blog and has worked extensively with digital tools to enhance teaching and research practices.
Hannah gained her PhD from the University of Manchester in 2003 and joins UCL from the ESRC Centre for Socio-Cultural Change (CRESC) at the University of Manchester where she has worked since 2004. She is the co-editor of ‘Objects and Materials: A Routledge Companion’ (2013), and a monograph resulting from her work on road construction in Peru is due to be published with Cornell University Press in 2015.
Her research is concerned with understanding processes of social and political transformation through the ethnographic study of technical relations and expert practices. Over the years her work has moved from a focus on struggles over knowledge and expertise to incorporate the role that materials of different kinds play in shaping techno-political relations. She has conducted research with new media entrepreneurs and economic development practitioners in the UK, IT managers and digital modellers in global corporations, and road construction and design engineers in Peru. Most recently she has been studying the politics of energy and climate change in a project that has been following the pursuit of carbon reduction strategies by a network of scientists, activists and local authority officers in Manchester, UK.
Miller has carried several research projects on the media which have resulted in publications including The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach (with D. Slater) Berg: Oxford 2000 and The Cell Phone: An Anthropology of Communication (with H Horst) Berg: Oxford 2006, Tales from Facebook Polity 2011 (also in German), and with Dr. M Madianou of Cambridge University Migration and New Media: transnationalism and polymedia (Routledge Sept 2012), with Heather Horst the edited volume Digital Anthropology (Oxford: Berg, 2012 also in Chinese) and with Jolynna Sinanan Webcam, (Polity 2014). He is currently working within a team of nine anthropologists associated with this Centre for Digital Anthropology on a ERC funded grant to examine the use and consequences of social media in eight countries around the world. See the UCL-hosted project website and blog for further details. In February 2016 they plan to launch the results of this project on a site called Why We Post which will include at least eleven books, a hundred films, a free university course and a website in all the languages of their project.
Stefana Broadbent is the cofounder of Cleanweb an organisation that uses the web to address climate change, which operates IYWTO the most extensive existing platform of green digital services. Between 2014 and 2016 she was Head of Collective Intelligence at Nesta in London. Previously Stefana was a convener of the MSc. in Digital Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at University College London, and is a visiting Professor at the AA in London and the Department of Design Politecnico di Milano. She was in the strategy board of Swisscom where she led the Observatory of Digital Life until 2008. Stefana has a degree in Psychology from the University of Geneva and a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Edinburgh. Her recent publications include chapters in the The Onlife Manifesto (2015) and Digital Anthropology (2012) and her book Intimacy at Work (Routledge 2016)
I am a social anthropologist with research interests in visual anthropology, material culture, museum anthropology, and digital anthropology on the one hand, and environmental anthropology on the other. I did my masters in cultural studies, Indian studies, and philosophy at Leipzig and Zurich University. After finishing my masters with a thesis on Indian diaspora in Leipzig, I worked for nearly 3 years with the South Asian and the educational department at Grassi Museum für Völkerkunde (Ethnographic Museum) I consequently wrote my PhD thesis in social anthropology and Indian studies at Munich University under Prof. Heidemann, which took me to Kerala to research a collection of South Indian photographs and objects from the 1920s, collected/shoot by a German racial anthropologist. From 2013 on I taught at the institute for social anthropology at Leipzig University and German as a second language at Anhalt University. Since 2015 I work as a researcher and research coordinator at the Center for Interdisciplinary Area Studies (ZIRS) at Halle University.
My research project "Postcolonial Digital Connections" asks for the impact of digitization processes in ethnographic collections and archives in transcultural contexts. Based on statements and expectations of access, networking, and international reconnection to the countries in which the ethnographic photographs and objects are created, the project asks if and how new forms of exchange and interactions can actually emerge on the basis of digital collections. How do digital archives influence the way people relate to (digitized) cultural heritage? How does digital availability change the understanding and usage of preserved material artefacts and the historical information? Do digital online archives lead to an empowerment, comparable to that of the ‘visual return’?
The project analyses the sociopolitical and sociocultural effects of digitization projects on the basis of two case studies as it looks at Indian so-called source communities and German-speaking heritage institutions. It explores how selected actors in India and Europe are brought together through new forms of archival knowledge transfer and examines how re-circulated images get entangled with dominant knowledge claims, and how emerging forms of knowledge are negotiated or visualised in post-ethnographic moments.
The theoretical basis is Clifford’s (1997) adaptation of Pratt’s contact zone concept to museums, and the idea of archives as potential tools of dialogue and communication (Zeitlyn 2012). The term contact zone is applied to digital collections and archives and enables an analysis of internet-based appropriations regarding in their societal, political and historical framework. Digital archives are conceptualized here as extended social areas of action that are able to be the space of new negotiations on an intercultural level if working with transnational cultural heritage. They offer not only access to cultural heritage and means of cultural production, but also the possibility to scrutinize existing hierarchies and visual economies.
Tom McDonald has a PhD in anthropology from UCL (2013). He has conducted long term ethnographic research in various parts of China. He is part of the Global Social Media Impact Study team and has been conducting research on aspects of internet and social media use in rural China, including issues such as the influence of ICT’s on family life, kinship, sharing, privacy, marriage and education.
Razvan Nicolescu is a digital anthropologist with an interest in understanding how people use the new information and communication technologies. His research focuses on the relation between digital technology and political economy, ideology, social change, normativity as well as feelings and ideals. Razvan has conducted ethnographic research in Romania and in southeast Italy. Trained both in telecommunication and anthropology, Razvan has worked extensively in commercial and in academic domains. Razvan is currently research associate in the Department of Computing at the Imperial College London where he works on the relation between technical, social, and economic aspects of the Internet of Things as part of a major UK Research Hub. Razvan is also honorary research fellow in anthropology at University College London where he just completed work in the Why We Post project, the first global anthropological research project on the uses and consequences of social media. Razvan’s first solely-authored book, Social Media in Southeast Italy: Crafting Ideals was published by UCL Press in 2016. The book focuses on the ability of people in the southern part of Salento region to craft their appearance on social media in relation to collective ideals, values and social positions, and shows how this feature of social media has, for many, become a moral obligation. He also co-authored the book How the World Changed Social Media published by UCL Press in 2016, a comparative analysis summarising the results of the Why We Post research that shows how people all around the world have transformed social media in unexpected ways. Razvan has contributed to the design and production of the free interactive course Why We Post: The Anthropology of Social Media delivered by Future Learn three times a year.
Jolynna Sinanan is a Vice Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Media and Communications and the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT University in Melbourne. Prior to this post, she was a Research Fellow in Anthropology at University College London. She is the co-author of How the World Changed Social Media (UCL Press, 2016) and Visualising Facebook (UCL Press, 2017) and Webcam (2014, Polity) with Daniel Miller.
Juliano Spyer is a PhD student at UCL's Anthropology Department and is part of the Global Social Media Impact Study. He has conducted 16 months of field work in the Northeast of Brazil, at a working class dormitory neighborhood for low wage workers of the tourism industry. His main research interest is social mobility and the emergent middle classes. Previously he worked for 15 years developing and managing social media projects.
Shriram Venkatraman is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Anthropology, University College London and is a faculty at the Centre for IT & Society at IIIT-Delhi. Author of a monograph, 'Social Media in South India' (UCL Press – forthcoming) and co-author of a comparative book 'How the World Changed Social Media' (UCL Press), he has also published in peer reviewed journals and has presented in several international conferences. He has also co-taught a MOOC course on 'Anthropology of Social Media' on Futurelearn (just completed its third run) and has coordinated the course in Hindi and Tamil as MOOCs as well (UCL eXtend). He is also a trained professional statistician and prior to his doctoral studies at UCL, held leadership positions at Walmart, USA. His research interests include technologies in work places, organisational culture, and entrepreneurship.
Xinyuan Wang is a post-doctorate researcher at UCL department of Anthropology, She obtained her PhD in Anthropology from UCL. Wang is the author of the open-access books Social Media in Industrial China and co-authored How the World Changed Social Media. She also translated into Chinese - plus contributed a chapter to - Digital Anthropology (Horst and Miller Eds.).
Nadia Elmrabet is a fourth year PhD candidate specialising in anthropology of technology and the digital. She has conducted ethnographic research in Panama in state institutions and communities, to study technological programs and digital literacy initiatives (particularly educational robotics). Her research focuses on exploring the digital condition and the contemporary evolution of literacy from a material perspective while engaging with wider issues of technology, social change, modernity and globalisation. She also works in digital communications in the private sector and has previously completed graduate school in Information and Communications Sciences at La Sorbonne University.