This week, I participated to a conference on Digital Humanities in Oslo. It was the first conference organized by the organisation Digital Humanities in the Nordic countries.
I presented a joint paper with my Humlab-colleague Anna Johansson, “The blindspot of Digital Humanities or What Ethnography can contribute.” Our presentation addressed the relation between digital humanities (DH) and digital ethnography (DE) with focus on the significance of small and thick data for understanding digital culture. Ethnography as the process and product of qualitative research is applied in several disciplines in the humanities in order to describe, explain and understand cultural practices, constructions and interactions. Although ethnography is an important method for the study of digital culture, it is rarely addressed in literature about DH. Our paper discusses the relation between DH and DE and explain how and why DE can be a productive contribution to DH with focus on reflexivity and ethics.
Longer abstract available here.
I will participate to the 33 Nordic Ethnology and Folklore Conference in Copenhagen 19-21 August, 2015 as panel convener and presenter. You’ll find below the abstract for the panel, and the program here.
Cooperation and Conflict in Sápmi. Research on Sámi struggle for cultural survival.
Marianne Liliequist, Professor in Ethnology, Department of Culture and Media Studies, Umeå University, Sweden.
Coppélie Cocq, PhD in Sámi Studies, Research Fellow at HUMlab, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden.
This panel aims to bring together research on Sámi struggle for cultural survival, i.e. research that deal with strategies and initiatives going on in Sápmi today in a time of threats and challenges – a time that is also marked by resistance and mobilization. This struggle for cultural survival is characterized by both cooperation and conflict, among Sámi and between Sámi and other groups in the Sámi area.
Recently, the Swedish government has been criticized both by the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, and by the Swedish Discrimination Ombudsman for an insufficient legislation that failed at ensuring indigenous rights. This criticism was actualized by exploitations in the Sámi area, not least the mining boom that is not restricted to Sweden. Threats and challenges extend to other domains than land rights, for instance language endangerment, limits in participation to political decisions or lack of knowledge in the majority population that leads to misrepresentations and racism.
The objective of this panel is to investigate the tensions and strategies at play in Sápmi today in a context of revitalization and struggle for empowerment. We are particularly interested in studies that investigate contemporary initiatives and processes by Sámi groups in order to articulate resistance and conflict prevention. Our goal is also to problematize methodological and ethical questions in Sámi Studies from the perspective of indigenous methodologies. We welcome both theoretical contributions and case studies.
My paper is about Sámi languages in digital settings: redefining knowledge and expertise.
The Sámi languages are often described as endangered, and their vulnerability is aggravated by the lack of resources when it comes to teachers and teaching materials. If this description is accurate, it does however disregard community-based initiatives that grow exponentially in many areas in Sápmi.
This paper examines the production of knowledge about Sámi languages through several examples of efforts independent of formal educational frames. Digital initiatives from the Sámi community – including storytelling, social media forums, networks and applications for mobile devices – are approached in this study as digital practices and as tools for language acquisition. Focus lies on recent initiatives in Sweden and Norway.
The aim is to investigate how knowledge is shaped in online media and digital technology in the Sámi community, and consequently how the traditional experts and producers of knowledge are redefined in a contemporary context characterized by a new media landscape, a strong engagement from the Sámi community online and offline, as well as revitalization movements.
Further, I will discuss the effects and challenges that digital tools and practices may imply and offer for empowerment and possible linguistic and cultural revitalization.
This year too, I will participate to the SIEF Congress, the biennal conference of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore. This time, it takes place in Zagreb, Croatia, June 21-25.
Together with my colleague Robert Glenn Howard, from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, we organize the panel Inheritance of the digital: ethnographic approaches to everyday realities in, of, and through digital technologies.
I will also present a paper, Traditional knowledge: new experts:
The dualism of the Internet, inherited from on one hand an ideology of individual freedom, and on the other hand from efforts for the consolidation of institutional power, is reiterated in contemporary digital practices and discourses. The Internet is seen as a source of hopes and expectations for an increased democratization and empowerment that could benefit not least minority and marginalized groups. But it is also an arena where power structures, institutional and non-institutional, meet and develop. In this context, indigenous initiatives multiply, for instance for the revitalization of endangered languages, in activism and for knowledge production. Consequently, the recent increased use of digital practices implies that new experts and authorities emerge, challenging and bypassing institutional structures. As an effect of the re-shaping of the settings for knowledge production in (and by) digital practices, academic research is also to be re-defined and problematized. Scholarly expertise, academic authority and the role of the traditional producer of knowledge are challenged by the emergence of new experts and new forms of authority online. Based on knowledge and experience acquired from indigenous methodologies, this paper discusses the role, position and responsibility of the researcher in a context where the digital is becoming a natural part of everyday life.
In June, Visby will host the international conference Why folkloristics?
The aim of the conference is “to gather folklorists, ethnologists and other cultural researchers to a discussion about folkloristics current contributions to today’s development of knowledge in the cultural sciences. “Why Folkloristics! has two questions as its starting point: “To what do we need folkloristics?” and “What kinds of knowledge do folklorists claim to produce?””
Abstracts are already available on the website, showing a variety of interesting contributions to this timely topic.
Together with my colleague Fredrik Skott, I will present a paper about Digital vernacular practices and folkloristics.
This coming week, I will be participating to a conference at Stanford University, together with colleagues from HUMlab.
HUMlab and Stanford are, since 2011, collaboration partners through the Media Places program. The conference Space, Materials and Media will be the opportunity to present ongoing research and discuss further collaboration.
Last week, I participated to the SIEF Congress in Tartu, the Annual Meeting of the international society of Ethnology and folklore (see previous post).
With over 400 participants and 10-15 parallel sessions along the 3 days of the congress, I can only write here about a fragment of the event. Based on the keynotes and the sessions I attended, I found the congress fantastic by its quality and by the open climate for scholarly discussions.
The keynotes are available online. I particularly enjoyed Kristin Kuutma’s critical talk on cultural heritage and Rob Howard’s lecture about his research on the vernacular web.
Despite some technological difficulties at the start, our panel went well and we had not only inspiring papers, but also interesting discussions about online/offline hybridity.
The theme for this year’s congress, circulation, turned out to be very productive. The circulation of culture and the role of media (mass media, ‘new’ media etc) in this process was a central topic in several sessions. Among the panels I attended, I found one about polymedia particularly interesting. The sessions about food styles were also – as always – inspiring and appetizing… in many ways 😉
Already looking forward to the next congress in Zagreb!
Call for papers
SIEF, Tartu, Estonia; 30th June – 4th July
Panel 18: Expressive culture and identities in a digital age
Coppélie Cocq (Umeå University )
Anna Johansson (Umeå University)
Follow this link for submission
In this panel, we propose to explore how folkloristics and ethnology can fruitfully engage with digital humanities in order to approach “new” circuits of communication and circulation in a hybrid world. While early theorists of digital culture were concerned with differences between life online and offline, scholars of today tend to emphasize the ever-present entanglement of digital and physical worlds. Cultural expressions are increasingly created, adapted, distributed and consumed in and in relation to online media. The ubiquitousness of digital media and the Internet in everyday life means that contemporary cultural forms and identities need to be understood as hybrid, produced through complex interplays between online and offline contexts.
The objective of the panel is to investigate this hybridity, or the situatedness of digital media, through empirical case studies. We welcome papers on expressive culture and identity construction in the interstice between the virtual and the physical. We are particularly interested in studies that examine this aspect in the context of various communities and their identity work at individual and collective levels. Questions that can be addressed are for instance: How does cultural production take place through hybrid practices? How do bodies online and offline interact, and how is their relationship structured? What is the role of hybridity in collective identity production? How are cultural norms maintained and/or questioned through hybridity?
Our hope with this panel is to contribute to conceptual and theoretical discussions regarding the relation between digital humanities and folkloristics/ethnology.
At the end of this month, I’ll participate to the Annual meeting of the American Folklore Society in New Orleans, Louisiana. The topic of this year’s conference is The Continuity and Creativity of Culture. This will be a highly appropriate occasion to present my work about traditions in Sámi web environments, in a panel entitled Asserted Continuity: Negotiating an Indigenous Sami Identity in a Changing World. Here is my abstract:
The Revitalization of Traditions: The Case of Sami Webspaces
In this paper, I examine the occurrence and use of the concept of ”tradition” in Sámi digital environments and the labeling of practices within Sámi revitalization processes. This study of Sámi websites investigates how expressive culture online emphasizes continuity of cultural aspects in traditional settings and in negotiation with the emergence of new practices in novel, digital environments.
The paper critically analyzes the consequences of the traditionalization of cultural practices, such as processes of both inclusion and exclusion, and the institutionalization of a vernacular within a complex, multilingual community.
Next week, I’ll participate to the 32nd Nordic conference of Ethnology and Folkloristics in Bergen, Norway.
My paper Traditions as selected pasts investigates the use of the concept of ”tradition” in Sámi digital environments and as a label of practices within Sámi revitalization processes. The recurrence and abundance of the occurrence of the term in Sámi websites motivates my investigation, encouraged by the strong theoretical attachment of the concept in folkloristics (cf Noyes 2009, Bronner 2011).
Based on the study of Sámi produced websites, this paper examines how Sámi expressive culture online emphasizes the continuity of cultural aspects and particular aspects of the past in traditional settings in negotiation with the emergence of new practices and meanings. Folklore on the Internet is approached as hybrid practice, i.e. in relation and interplay with offline practices (cf Howard 2005). This study considers the processes behind what Jones calls the “symbolic construction of the past in the present for the future” (2000:116), achieved in this case by the selection and (re)creation of the past in the contemporary Sámi context of revitalization. The labeling of practices as traditional underscores continuity and articulates a historical past that legitimates discourses about identity and nationalism. Thus, this paper critically analyzes the implications and consequences of the uses of the concept of tradition.
My presentation is part of a panel entitled History culture and selected past. I look forward to interesting papers and discussions!
Saemien Sijte arrangerar ett språkseminarium om sydsamiska.
Seminariet äger rum 22-24 september i Snåsa, Norge och på programmet står ett antal forskare från Sverige och Norge. På torsdag 22 kommer jag att presentera mitt pågående projekt under rubriken Samiska berättelser i digitala miljöer – den gången med fokus på sydsamiska exempel, så klart.
På Saemien Sijtes hemsida kan ni läsa mer om andra spännande föredrag om aktuell forskning!