a proposal revisited

Getting lost is part of a great adventure, but finding a path again took quite some effort. Part of this involved rewriting the introduction to my thesis proposal, as a way of tightening up the projects goals.


This research will examine how the internet is fueling change in anthropology, looking at how anthropologists share knowledge online. In this way the research will focus on the culture of publishing in anthropology – paying special attention to the role of new communication technologies. Through online participation, interviews and small surveys, the research will explore what is unique about new communication mediums and how they are changing anthropology. As an ethnographic project it will explore ways of participating and engaging online communities of anthropologists. Unlike traditional projects, this research will be shared publicly on a blog as a way of engaging others to share their thoughts and opinions while the research progresses. The blog will serve as a field site created to invite collaborators to share their own perspectives, and in doing so it will explore opportunities and challenges of online collaboration. This experience will serve as an interesting backdrop to investigate traditional publishing. What happens to anthropology when it serves different audiences?

To inform this question the project will investigate the motivations researchers have for publishing in particular venues. Who are they writing for, and where? A series of stories, informed through interviews, will detail individual researchers publishing experiences. This will form a backdrop to look at new publication opportunities online, and it will investigate the choices anthropologists make to disseminate and develop their ideas. This will touch on issues of peer review, authority, tenure opportunity and discipline, as well as issues of audience, distribution and production of anthropological work, accessibility, and style. It will highlight new participants, new audiences, and new ways of speaking in anthropology.

The research will be carried out online and at Concordia University. Blog interactions, interviews with researchers, and email surveys, will serve to inform current issues surrounding the dissemination of anthropological work. A major goal of this project will be to engage anthropologists in debates surrounding public engagement and accessibility to knowledge.


5 responses to this post.

  1. “A major goal of this project will be to engage anthropologists in debates surrounding public engagement and accessibility to knowledge.”
    Some of this may be happening already, partly because of your own engagement. Let’s hope your research and other events will extend the reach of those debates.


  2. I’ve found most teachers involved online have a good idea what their options are for self-archiving. It’s the ones who don’t read anthro blogs/spend time online that are unaware of their self-archiving rights… Or of reasons for publishing in OA journals.

    My most successful strategy here is to walk around in person interviewing and chatting with people, with the offer to help anyone I meet self-archive their work. [which is as easy as emailing the Mana’o project, who will do all the leg work finding out if the author has the rights to do archive it]. I just need to do more of this to feel like it’s been successful.

    So in this way blogging is a challenging medium in terms of advocating OA to unaware audiences…


  3. first thanks for adding me to your blogroll!
    it’s an interesting proposal, but i’d like to prompt you to think about the technologically deterministic language you use in the proposal. to give an example, you write “how the internet is fueling change …”. my own research deals with how we make sense of the internet as a medium, how we come to think of and use it. while there are certainly power dimensions embedded in technology, i’m on the social shaping of technology side. i am not sure it’s the internet who brings change – i’m curious as to why, how and under what circumstances some anthropologists decided that the internet is the place for change in anthropology as a disciplinary practice (again, change? transformation? loaded concepts…). the politics behind this use and conceptualization of the net as a place/ tool/ resource. i’d recommend steve woolgar’s work on the various approaches to technology (he’s a somewhat radical social shaping scholar). good luck! and i’ll add u to my blogroll.


  4. Thanks for the insight!

    I didn’t mean to come across as overly ‘deterministic’, and tried instead to stress technological ‘opportunity’ [if that sneaks around anything]. The ‘fueling change’ part was meant to symbolize the internet as a catalyst rather than as being a causing force. Ie: being able to reach larger audiences via blogging, then through journal publications -> catalyst for anthropologists using the internet as a place for public engagement.

    The motivation behind ‘change’ I discuss comes from debates surrounding public engagement and accessibility in anthropology. The internet provides the opportunities to write for very different audiences, and I’m interested in how this changes the way anthropologists develop and present their work.

    One example of this would be Michael Wesch’s youtube video’s which are awesome, but in appealing to a particular audience, happen to turn some anthropologists off. Another example is this blog, which also appeals to certain audiences, and also turns some anthropologists off! lol.

    Thanks for the Woolgar reference. It’s now on my reading list! I’ll also be careful to work against using any overly deterministic language, and will be sure to clarify exactly what i mean by change and transformation in the final writeup. In fact, I’ll try and blog about it… Thank you very much for the insights!



  5. […] functioning as new channels of communication between students and their professors or teachers! And how anthropologists share knowledge online as O.W states in his research […]


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