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Research plans for 2009

January 5, 2009

I am pleased to report that I emerge from the Western festive season much refreshed, dear reader(s) – the first proper break in a long time. I’ve even had time to daydream about my research and teaching activities in 2009.

First of all, I need to finish off a couple of articles and the monograph arising from my fieldwork on internet activism in suburban Kuala Lumpur. Invited lectures at the Universities of Passau in January and the Basque Country in February will be part of the writing-up process. Meanwhile I will need to do some serious thinking about my next research project – perhaps library-based, historical and comparative rather than ethnographic this time, we shall see. (Something to do with practice theory and the Cambrian explosion of media practices around the globe?). On the teaching front, I’m teaching an MA course on the anthropology of media in Vienna this coming May and will start a new undergrad module on media in everyday life at Sheffield Hallam in October.

Your blog comments will be as appreciated in 2009 as they were in 2008.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex D-F permalink
    January 5, 2009 2:07 pm

    Happy New Year John! But what does Cambrian mean? I thought it meant Welsh…

  2. January 5, 2009 2:58 pm

    And Happy New Year to you, Alex!! Sorry, Cambrian explosion:

    “The beginning of the Cambrian Period, now thought to date from 542 rather than 570 million years ago, witnessed an unparalleled explosion of life”, see
    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/90620/Cambrian-explosion

    I meant it in the context of what seems like the historically unparalleled invention and diversification of media practices that we witness around the globe today as digital technologies become appropriated in countless ways, most recently mobile phone techs even in the global South.

  3. January 5, 2009 3:24 pm

    How can we conceptualise and theorise this explosion? As I’ve suggested on this blog before, I don’t think the way forward is to search for THE paradigmatic, single social logic that defines the present era. Catchy labels such as The Global Village, The Network Society, the Information Society, etc. try to identify a single key social formation at the centre of epochal changes.

    Instead of searching for a sociological fix we may have to accept that no such paradigmatic formation exists – no sociological unity underlies the increasingly rapid speciation of social life forms, virtually all of them technologically mediated life forms. We need to identify the principles of practical differentiation and combination (of practical fission and fusion) at work behind this bewildering diversification, not a monolithic global ‘society’.

  4. Alex D-F permalink
    January 5, 2009 11:12 pm

    Thanks for the Cambrian elucidation, John. I will now use the term in an off-hand manner & expect my colleagues to follow my meaning.
    You write with characteristic clarity about the pitfalls of the search for a mono-paradigm. Maybe the problem is as much narrative as sociological. The idea that there’s ONE story, or a single milieu/predicament that requires explanation. food for thought.

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