Media Anthropology: Meaning, Embodiment, Infrastructure, and Activism
MetadataShow full item record
Type of WorkText
open educational resources
Citation of Original PublicationBryce Peake, Media Anthropology: Meaning, Embodiment, Infrastructure, and Activism, Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology, https://courses.lumenlearning.com/suny-culturalanthropology/chapter/media/
RightsThis item is likely protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. Unless on a Creative Commons license, for uses protected by Copyright Law, contact the copyright holder or the author.
Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Media is a word that can be used to describe a set of technologies that connect multiple people at one time to shared content. Media anthropologists study mass communication (broadcast radio and television) and digital media (Internet, streaming, and mobile telephony) with a particular interest in the ways in which media are designed or adapted for use by specific communities or cultural groups. Many research projects focus on media practices, the habits or behaviors of the people who produce media, the audiences who interact with media, and everyone in between. Many classic anthropological concepts are incorporated in studies of media. For example, in her ethnography of Egyptian television soap operas, Dramas of Nationhood (2004), Lila Abu-Lughod sought to understand how watching these programs contributed to a shared sense of Egyptian cultural identity. In her ethnography, Romance on the Global Stage (2003), Nicole Constable examined how the Internet was transforming ideas about marriage and love by contributing to new kinds of “mail-order bride” economies in which men in the United States could communicate with women thousands of miles away. Utilizing classic ideas about ritual and community life pioneered by Margaret Mead and Bronislaw Malinowski, Tom Boellstorff’s book Coming of Age in Second Life (2015) explored the ways that people were building realistic communities using virtual reality software like Second Life. Anthropological concepts of ritual, magic, taboo, and organic solidarity can be used effectively to examine the role that media plays in the lives of individuals and communities. Like other specializations in anthropology, studies of media are also organized around a commitment to long-term ethnographic fieldwork and cultural relativism. This chapter introduces some of the theories, insights, and methodologies of media anthropology. At the heart of media anthropology is the assertion that media practices are not universal. Whether we are discussing how television is viewed, how public relations coordinators negotiate corporate hierarchies, how Facebook statuses are created and circulated, or how cellular towers are built, the local cultural context plays an important role.
The following license files are associated with this item:
- Creative Commons