Message posted on 03/02/2023

CfP Nordic STS 2023 Futures of digital ethnographic methods

Dear all,

If you are interested in and/or are working with digital ethnographic methods, please consider joining us in Oslo for our panel at the  2023 Nordic STS conference between 7-9th June to discuss its post-pandemic futures. Looking forward to your abstracts of 250 words by March 1.

All best,

Julie for the organising team

Disrupted fieldwork and digital research encounters: Futures of digital ethnographic methods and interdisciplinary collaboration amidst global challenges

This panel focuses on digital ethnographic fieldwork and whether methods and collaborations in/of 'the digital' are the future 'new normal'. During the COVID-19 pandemic, universities were among the first institutions to go into lockdown, moving academic work off-campus and limiting access to nondigital field sites. Simultaneously, digital solutions became integrated into work practices and personal lives, moving field sites online at least partially or temporarily. This required ad hoc readjustments to suit the new social, material, and technological needs of remote research as much as the spatial configurations of ethnographic methods. Long-term effects included the (temporary) rise of digital methods in STS ethnography and its modes of interdisciplinary collaborations.

Although many scholars already worked with digital methods or conducted digital fieldwork before 2020, the pandemic required many more researchers to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of digital and online research practices, even if they were not specifically interested in ‘the digital’ previously. As such, they added to existing research practices. As a result, novel collaborations and ways of ‘working digitally’ are emerging in the wake of the crisis. A widely shared collaborative online document for ‘doing fieldwork in a pandemic’ (Lupton, 2021) highlighted the potential of digital research methods, drawing on a range of fields such as critical data studies, media studies, platform studies, or digital sociology.

Qualitative research traditions have much to offer, grappling with messy and complex datasets and intertwined technical and social effects, suggesting that reflexive ‘digital fieldwork’ (Lindgren 2019, Venturini & Rogers 2019) could be a valuable approach to dealing with digital field sites. STS researchers have contributed to such discussions. For example, Moats (2019) explores the tensions of ‘following the medium’ and following controversies, whereas Ribes (2019) comments on the challenges and opportunities that can be found in the intersection of STS and data science. Marres’ (2020) ‘situational analytics’ brings interpretative methodology into computational settings, whilst Vertesi and Ribes (2019) collect an array of examples of digital STS scholarship in their book. Wyatt (2022), an advocate for ‘digital humanism’, argues the need for different modes of collaboration across disciplines, where developing shared methods in the digital sphere might enact interdisciplinarity in fruitful ways.

This panel invites papers concerned with the practicalities of conducting different kinds of digital fieldwork in the post-pandemic ‘new normal’. We are particularly interested in research exploring a) the concrete doings of digital ethnography and methodographic reflections on the performativity of our research methods, collaborations, and digital devices (Greiffenhagen et al., 2011; Lippert and Mewes, 2021), and/or b) reflections of the potential future implications for STS methods during global geopolitical, ecological, and health-related challenges. We ask panel contributions to critically reflect upon potential exclusions and limits, frictions as well as delights of digital fieldwork, its methods and methodologies, and the academic infrastructures they are embedded into. The panel creates a collaborative space for STS researchers interested in ‘the digital’ as an empirical, theoretical or methodical concern, field site and/or field device to gather the learnings of pandemic digital fieldwork, paying specific attention to discussions on the present and futures of digital STS.

Panel organizers: Julie Mewes, Ruhr University Bochum; Frauke Rohden, University of Oslo; and Sylvia Irene Lysgård, Oslo Metropolitan University

Submission deadline: 1 March 2023

Submission form: /2023/nordic-sts/submission.html

Dr. Julie Sascia Mewes

Co-chair and board member of stsing, Science and Technology Studies in and through Germany e.V.

Affiliated Researcher of the Ruhr University Science and Technology Studies Lab

Pronouns: she/her

Find my latest publications and projects here:

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