Remix Ethnography: Qualitative Research for Lived Experience of Media in a Mobile, Fragmented, and Global Epoch

HEX- Digital Cultures and Games Lecture and Lab
A joint seminar for HEX; the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies sections for Ethnology, Library and information Science; and the Master of Applied Cultural Analysis

WHO: Dr. J. Annette Markham, Guest Professor, Centre for Internet Research, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark.

WHEN: March 24, 2011. 15 – 18
15.15-16.45 Lecture + discussion
17.00-18.00 Exercises in the computer lab

WHERE: Department of Arts and Cultural Sciences, Lund. Room 109, ground floor, to the left, in Kulturanatomen at Biskopsgatan 7 . The ensuing lab will be held at Biskopsgatan 7, in basement game labs 022 and 019. We’ll lead you there.

Annette Markham is Guest Professor at Institut for Informations- og Medievidenskab and Centre for Internet Research, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark.  Annette has studied identity and meaning in everyday life and has published ethnographies in journals including Qualitative Inquiry and Management Communication Quarterly. Her sociological work of online lived experience is well represented in the book Life Online: Researching Real Experience in Virtual Space (Sage, 1998). Her more recent research focuses on emergent qualitative methods in internet studies.  Works have been published in a range of journals, handbooks, and book collections, as well as her recent publication: Internet Inquiry: Dialogue Among Scholars (co-edited with Nancy Baym, Sage 2009). She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled: The Ethics of Fabrication. Annette can be reached at amarkham [at] gmail [dot] com;

WHAT: The internet—with all its capacities, interfaces, uses, and underlying technologies—both epitomizes and enables a seemingly constant barrage of reality-altering, globe-shifting changes. Technologies that were once separate and physically located now converge and move with the user to create individualized experiences of media. At the same time, social media and web 2.0 technologies facilitate complex networks of connection among people both locally and globally, across any media form imaginable, disrupting our traditional understandings of producer and consumer, user and object.  Materiality in this mobile epoch is better understood as connection, process, and relationship.

Conducting qualitative research in mobile, global, and fragmented media environments can be profoundly challenging. What and where is the object of analysis? How can we draw boundaries around the field when it is discursively constructed and never stable? Interestingly, perhaps, these challenges may have always been present in traditional research contexts, but the internet brings many invisible assumptions about qualitative inquiry to the foreground. Nonetheless, in mediated contexts, qualitative researchers must grapple with the problem of how to distinguish subject, object, and phenomenon when convergence of media intertwines them together. To deal with the challenges offered by complex contexts, do we cling to tradition, hoping for steady grounding? Or do we continually experiment?

Thinking about ethnographic practice through the framework of remix culture offers a means of reflecting on the premises ethnography but reconfiguring some of the practices associated with fieldwork, interviewing, and participant observation. A remix approach to ethnography focuses attention on the disjunctive and fragmented ‘moments’ of fieldwork; the impossible challenge of filtering potentially huge amounts of ‘data;’ and the complexity of creating an account that is both true to the lived experience of networked, multiphrenic participants and also readable as a somewhat coherent research report. Rather than relying on disciplinary and disciplined research methods, a remix approach considers seriously the notion that every choice made throughout the course of a project is a methodological decision with practical, epistemological, and ethical consequences.

This lecture addresses some methodological and ethical challenges and also offers some emergent methods for conducting qualitative research that is both creative and rigorous.

In the ensuing lab session we will illustrate and discuss in more depth some of the issues brought up in the lecture. More detailed description to follow.

HOW: Drop in. It is not mandatory to announce your participation ahead of time, but it is much appreciated! Please email:


Jessica Enevold
Seminar coordinator HEX Digital Cultures and Games Series



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