Public Anthropology in the Digital Era [unknown]

Antonio De Lauri, Kristin Bergtora Sandvik
2021 The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology   unpublished
The public anthropologist grapples with not one but many overlapping digital transformations. The digital turn shapes the social fields with which the anthropologist engages; the political opportunities and risks arising from the engagement of the public anthropologist; and the methodological approach of the public anthropologist as they access, produce, and disseminate knowledge. Public anthropology refers to the potential-and to some extent the duty-of anthropology to effectively address and
more » ... ommunicate, via a variety of media, key societal issues from an ethnographic perspective. This entry examines how digital transformations, as processes of social change, bring new opportunities and challenges for the public anthropologist. Public anthropology emphasizes the anthropologist's role as an engaged intellectual and an ethnographic witness, committed to reframing the terms of public debates and fostering social and political change that benefits others, especially those with whom anthropologists work (De Lauri and Borofsky 2019). Debates about the public dimension of anthropology have been salient across different periods of the discipline's history and, in the past few decades, have sparked discussions ranging from militant anthropology (Scheper-Hughes 1995) to prudent skepticism regarding a certain degree of inward attitude (i.e., the tendency to write mainly for other anthropologists). There is no univocal definition of public anthropology, no univocal profile of the public anthropologist. The difficulty in establishing an agreed-upon definition suggests that public anthropology might be considered as a process more than a clear concept, a collective aspiration shaped by generally shared values and intentions within significant sections of the discipline (De Lauri and Borofsky 2019). Digital transformations influence the modalities of interaction, knowledge production, and dissemination in the field of social and cultural anthropology, thus expanding the capacity of public anthropology in terms of both possibilities and risks. Digital tools and transformation Digital tools, broadly defined, refer to a variety of elements including electronic devices; systems and resources that generate, store, or process data; computing platforms; electronic hardware and software; and programs. In a digital transformation, the integration of information communication technologies (ICTs) within an organization, a social group, or a social field more broadly transform how groups and individuals operate, struggle over resources (and also what they consider to be resources), and
doi:10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea2505 fatcat:mmzwzcxu3rhphmhvm24mwzc7ei