Public Lecture by Hannah Knox, Professor of Anthropology, University College London.
Info about event
Auditorium 1441-012, Aarhus University, Tåsingegade 3, 8000 Aarhus C
How are digital technologies affecting the way that people are engaging with the natural world? This was the question which animated a foray into the wilds of the Dee Estuary between England and Wales, a space of environmental instability, material politics and social tension. Prompted first by news of flocks of ‘twitchers’ drawn to the estuary through an alert of a sighting of a rare cattle egret on the web-based service BirdNet, the research soon left the digital anthropological confines of social media to trace a longer, more ambivalent story of the intertwining of estuary life and environmental data: from the early days of the estuary up to the present day. The estuary is not an obviously high-tech environment – people we spoke to often told us how digital media perplexed or alienated them from the landscape - and yet digging deeper into the estuarial muds and riding the tidal flows, we discovered a digital shadow in the estuary which was profoundly shaping its practices, its politics and its form. Digital anthropology here extended from the study of how people use digital devices, to a study of the hidden data infrastructures which shape the estuary and the lives of those who live there. Building on this finding that digital anthropology might be able to offer an account not only of digital culture but also of what I call here data-worldings, I end the talk with a reflection on where this leaves digital anthropologists when they are invited as partners to rethink people’s engagement with existing nature-scapes, and to consider the role that data can play in making these relationships otherwise.
All are welcome.
Hannah Knox is Professor of Anthropology at University College London. She is editor of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, she convenes the MSc program in Digital Anthropology at UCL and from 2018-2021 she was Director of the Centre for Digital Anthropology, UCL.
Organized by Maja Hojer Bruun, Educational Anthropology and Research Program Future Technologies, Culture and Learning Processes.