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International Workshop

Anthropologies of Media and Mobility: Theorizing Movement and Circulations Across Entangeld Fields

Cologne, 14 - 16 September 2017

From September 14 to 16, 2017, the international workshop “Anthropologies of Media and Mobility: Theorizing movement and circulations across entangled fields”, co-organized by the a.r.t.e.s. Research Lab, took place at the University of Cologne. It sought to theorize the relationship between media and mobility from an anthropological point of view and  included findings of multidisciplinary and mixed-methodological approaches between social anthropology and other disciplines like gender studies and postcolonial theories.

Media and mobility are closely linked with each other: While mobility has been defined as movement ascribed with meaning, one might in similar fashion define media as meaning ascribed with movement. The workshop aimed at reimagining circulations through the lens of media and mobility to understand current socio-cultural and political changes. Movements may on the one hand transgress borders but on the other contribute to their existence. The internationally increasing movements were debated both as human mobility for example in the form of migration, refuge, tourism and as mobility of goods, information, food, lifestyles, narratives, practices, meanings. Through movements represented in media, new imaginaries of territories and social spaces are circulated – sometimes questioning and sometimes forging ties between people, signs and things. The workshop was characterized by the international composition of participants from Japan, Poland, Austria, Turkey, Hungary, India, Canada, Spain, France, China, Nigeria, Belgium, Norway, Brazil, Portugal, the USA, UK, Netherlands and of course from Germany. The composition of their research topics was equally diverse, ranging from Gay Filipinos on Mobile Phone Apps to the effect of GPS sports watches or media reports on Roma migrations.

The anthropological workshop was initiated by two networks of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA), which is a professional association open to all social anthropologists either qualified in, or else working in, Europe. These two networks are the ANTHROMOB (Anthropology and Mobility Network), which facilitates scientific debates among anthropologists working on mobility, and the Media Anthropology Network, that aims to foster international discussion and collaboration around the anthropology of media. These EASA networks organized and funded the workshop in collaboration with the a.r.t.e.s. Research Lab and the Competence Area IV “Societies and Cultures in Transition” of the University of Cologne, the DFG Research Training Group “Locating Media” of the University of Siegen and the Collaborative Research Center 1187 “Medien der Kooperation”.

The workshop was in particular an international one – not only because the participants travel from all over the world to Cologne, but because they presented their findings of their ethnographic fieldworks from the most different corners of the earth. The  keynotes were held by David Morley (Goldsmiths, London) on “Communications and Mobilities – Virtual and Material Geographies” and by Heather Horst (University of Sydney) on “Mobilising Media, Mobilising Music: Perspectives from the Pacific”.

(text by Alessa Hübner)