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PhD course: Media Ethnography in Theory and Practice

March 4, 2011

via IAMCR mailing list

Upcoming PhD Course
Media Ethnography: Theory and Practice

Dr. Debra Spitulnik Vidali (Emory University)
Dr. Thomas Tufte (Roskilde University)

Date: 7-9 June 2011

The course will take place at Roskilde University, Denmark.

Application deadline: 30 April 2011

Points given: 3 ECTS (with presentation). 2 ECTS without presentation.


Dr. Jo Helle Valle, Senior Researcher, Nat’l Institute for Consumer Research, Oslo, Norway
Dr. John Postill, C3RI, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
Dr. Debra Spitulnik Vidali, Associate Professor, Emory University, USA
Dr. Thomas Tufte, Professor, Roskilde University, Denmark


This short course is designed to introduce Ph.D. students to the theory and practice of media ethnography. We explore how media ethnography applies to both media production and media reception, and how it is fundamentally both a theory and a method for investigating everyday practices and lived experiences as they are shaped by culturally-specific ways of being-in-the world.Media to be considered include: television, film, radio, newspapers, and new media. The course will begin with a brief overview of the history of ethnographic approaches within media studies and cultural studies, which dates back to the mid 1980s.We then engage more recent scholarship within media anthropology, focusing specifically on three dimensions of ethnography:(a) as fieldwork method; (b) as anthropological lens, and (c) as a method of writing and re-presentation.

While all 4 speakers will speak, so will the participating Ph.D. students. All students are encouraged to present a media ethnography dimension of their Ph.D project reflecting on one or more of the three above mentioned approaches to media ethnography. The students will furthermore have the opportunity to conduct small exercises in which they practice doing participant-observation fieldwork, field note-taking, and working with the writing of ethnographic textures.

Participant Requirements:

A course package of required readings will be compiled and circulated to participants 3-4 weeks prior to the course. The participants are required to read the full package of scholarly texts and to take an active part in discussing them, under the direction of the course leaders.Participants who wish to present some of their work on the seminar must hand in a 7-10 page essay and stating its relation to the course area. The deadline for this is May 20th .

Maximum number of participants will be 12.

The tuition fee is 3000 DKK (this fee is waivered if you are a member of RUC Doctoral School)

In addition you must budget for travel, food and accommodation. Roskilde University will assist you in recommending accommodation. On this issue or if you have other practical inquiries, please contact Chris Holmsted (holmsted <at>

To Apply:

Send a 1000 word application statement by April 30thto Chris Holmsted (holmsted <at> In your application statement, describe:

* your Ph.D. project, and its relation to media ethnography
* your current status in your Ph.D. program (e.g. before fieldwork, after fieldwork)
* what you hope to gain from a course on the theory and practice of media ethnography
* any previous work in ethnography or media studies

Thomas Tufte, Professor
Bldg 42-3, Roskilde University, POB 260, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark
Tel: (+45) 46743204 Fax: (+45) 46743075 Email: holmsted <at>

Principal Investigator of MEDIeA 2009-2013 (Media Empowerment& Democracy in East Africa)
Further info at: Ørecomm, Consortium for Communication& Glocal Change

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2011 9:48 pm

    wow, this sounds great. i wish there was something like this a little closer to home…

  2. March 5, 2011 12:49 am

    Well, spread the word and perhaps we can do one further afield 🙂 where are you based, Ryan?

  3. March 5, 2011 5:24 am

    I will pass this around! I think this is great, and definitely would like to see more PhD programs focus on the methods/theory of media anthropology. I am based in the US by the way–at the University of Kentucky. Part of my diss research is going to include an analysis/discussion of tourism media (brochures, books, travel guides, internet ads, etc) as part of the construction of place in Mexico, so I am definitely into this aspect of anthropology.

  4. March 5, 2011 10:15 am

    Yes, it would be great to do one in the US.

    Construction of place in Mexico in general or in some specific touristy area?

  5. March 5, 2011 10:22 pm

    I’m working at a site in Baja California Sur that is in the process of becoming a touristy place…and there are some differing opinions about what form that should or will take. Right now it’s more of an eco- or adventure tourism kind of place, but mass tourism developers and real estate folks are looking to get in on the game. The reactions to this are across the board. A lot of the most interesting media comes from not only tourism operators, but also real estate professionals and developers. It’s all about constructing the place as a luxurious, romantic, rustic, pristine destination–and of course adding value the land and developments that are underway.

  6. Oranit permalink
    March 6, 2011 2:47 pm

    It does look great! and much needed.
    What are the chances for international PhD. students to be accepted – only 12 participants?
    I would really like to come over and participate.

  7. March 6, 2011 6:41 pm

    Hi Oranit. Yes, unfortunately there are only a few places available. If you have any questions you may want to get in touch with Thomas Tufte, see address above.

  8. March 7, 2011 4:33 am

    Hello Dr. Postill,

    Do you have a course outline or syllabus for this course available for viewing? If so, would you be willing to send me copy? Sounds like a really great course. Thanks in advance, Mark Oppenneer

  9. March 7, 2011 11:33 am

    Hi Mark, I’m afraid I haven’t got it yet, but again you may want to check with Thomas Tufte, contact details above.

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