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Joan Njagi

Communication technologies such as social and mobile media are considered useful in contributing to breaking down barriers of access to mainstream media platforms such as TV, radio, and newspapers, thereby increasing social and political

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Giovanni Navarria

The technological revolution that began with the Arpanet in the late Sixties has changed the world we live in. The Internet and social media have improved our lives considerably, but the changes came in with a high-price tag attached: our freedom. We now live in a world in which technology has exponentially expanded the power of the State to keep tabs on its citizens (within and across borders). If we continue on this path, democracy as we know it is doomed. Yet the future is not as grey as it might look at first sight. The ubiquity of social media and smartphones and the increasing relevance of the Internet in everyday life have also drastically changed the impact-power of citizens in technologically advanced societies. Understanding these changes is to understand which shape democracy will take in the future.

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Following, Othering, Taking Over

Research Participants Redefining the Field through Mobile Communication Technology

Nanneke Winters

What happens when research participants employ mobile communication technology to take over the conversation? This article is inspired by Stella, 1 a participant in research on transatlantic and trans-American migrant trajectories in Central

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Kathleen Frazer Oswald

healthful and environmentally aware solutions, or simply the addition of information and communication technology to make government, business, and daily life better. The framing of smart transportation as a set of tendencies working to integrate additional

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Media Ecologies of Autonomous Automobility

Gendered and Racial Dimensions of Future Concept Cars

Julia M. Hildebrand and Mimi Sheller

gender formations. Given that systems of automobility and communication technology are already gendered and racialized in particular ways, one can ask how emerging automated technologies both reconfigure and reproduce gendered and raced representations

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The Tyranny of Time and Space—Weakened but Not Vanquished

Comment on Special Section on Media and Mobility

Patricia L. Mokhtarian

People have exchanged messages across distances of space or time since the dawn of human history. Modern technologies, for both travel and telecommunication, have vastly increased the speed and reach of our communication potential, but the difference from the past is not just one of degree: at least one difference in kind is the convergence of information/computing technology with communication technology (ICT), and specifically the emergence of the (now-mobile) internet. Relationships between ICT and travel are numerous, complex, and paradoxical. Speculation that “modern“ ICT could substitute for travel virtually coincided with the invention of the telephone, but scholars as early as the 1970s also realized the potential for mutual synergy and generation. Although ICT and travel have diminished the tyranny of space, they cannot be said to have conquered it.

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Space of Hope for Lebanon’s Missing

Promoting Transitional Justice through a Digital Memorial

Erik Van Ommering and Reem el Soussi

ABSTRACT

This article explores how a digital memorial for forcibly disappeared persons contributes to transitional justice in Lebanon. It presents the joint establishment of an interactive digital memorial by a collective of nongovernmental organizations, relatives of missing persons, and youth volunteers. The case study is situated in debates on transitional justice, calls for democratization of collective memories and archives, and discussions on new information and communication technologies. The article demonstrates how the development and launch of Fushat Amal (Space for Hope) is shaped and confined by postwar sociopolitical realities that are all but favorable to memorialization or justice-seeking initiatives. It highlights how digitalized memories can open up spaces that remain closed in the offline world, enabling survivors to share their stories, build collectives, demand recognition, and advocate for justice. At the same time, the authors discuss the limitations of digital memorials in relation to questions of access, ownership, and sustainability.

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Benjamin O.L. Bowles and Federica Guglielmo

This special issue of Anthropology in Action collects essays arising from the 4th Post-graduate Conference of the Royal Anthropological Institute, held at Brunel University (London) on 3–4 September 2014. The event aimed to explore a variety of perspectives concerning the production and the ownership of anthropological knowledge, including issues of authority and ethical responsibility. We also welcomed reflections on the opening of new interstitial fieldsites in between the structured components of anthropological research. Our interest focused on the dilemmas arising from the definition of the field itself, in the guise of the epistemological delimitation of its boundaries and how these affect the relational world within it. We focused on the co-dependence between these factors and on the influence of increasing interconnectedness through advanced and progressively widespread communication technologies (cf. Kelty 2009).

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Barbara Franchi and Natália da Silva Perez

The f-word used to be inappropriate for polite company, but today nobody seems afraid to say it, loud and proud. Hollywood stars and world-famous pop singers can openly claim to be feminists; it is now acceptable for mainstream celebrities to emulate that which more radical independent feminist artists have been doing for the past few decades. This gradual mainstreaming of feminism, facilitated in part by easier and wider access to communication technology, is reflected all over mass media. The last couple of years have also seen a number of high-profile female celebrities engaging in feminist political action. When Angelina Jolie and Emma Watson are UN ambassadors in projects that aim to promote the emancipation of women worldwide, when pop singer Beyoncé openly declares that “we have a way to go [to achieve equality] and it’s something that’s pushed aside and something that we have been conditioned to accept,” (Vena, 2013) their voices are heard by a wider audience, one that might not have been reached by the voices of activists and scholars who have for decades denounced the problems caused by gender discrimination.

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Editorial

Theorizing the Social

According to Leisering in his editorial in this journal, the idea of the “social” not only concerns social services as found in textbooks on social policy, it also “reflects a culturally entrenched notion of the relationship between state and society – a recognition of the tension between the ideal of political equality and socio-economic inequality, and of a collective responsibility by the state for identifying and redressing social problems” (Leisering 2013: 12). Theorizing “social quality” began in Europe at the end of the 1990s, in reaction to the increasing tendency to reduce the European Union’s operation to an “economic project.” In an ideological sense this reduction was legitimated by decoupling the economic dimension from the socio-political and sociocultural dimensions and leaving the latter two to the authority of the EU member states. The presupposition on the part of neoclassical economics and mainstream political and sociological studies of a duality between “the economic” and “the social” paved the way for this move. Therefore social quality scholars started to theorise ‘the social’ anew to go beyond the duality of the economic and the social In practice, nation-based policies became subordinated to the European-oriented financial and economic politics and policies that were being used to address the globalization of production and reproduction relationships (Beck et al. 1997). This shift became seriously strengthened by the revolutionary development and application of new communication technologies.